Many of ReSound’s customers are actively involved in charity work, namely organizing and participating in mission trips to help those in need. We interviewed some of the audiologists we’ve worked with to donate hearing aids. We asked them how they were first inspired to go on a mission trip and the advice they have for others looking to organize their own trip.
What inspired you to participate in a mission trip?
“I received a presentation from the older students in my audiology program about their mission trip to Antigua, Guatemala and was immediately intrigued at the possibility of participating the next year,” said Amber Hilderman, a student at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
“I previously served a two year LDS mission on Majuro in the Marshall Islands and love the people,” said Rodney Thompson, Au.D, Thompson Audiology. “Majuro is a small (3.75 sq mi), low-lying island with a population of about 25,000. Unemployment is 72% and 80% of the population lives below the US poverty level with 18% living on less than one dollar per day.”
“I was inspired by the Healthy World Foundation and wanted to add my services,” said Ashley Eisen, Au.D, Buffalo Speech and Hearing Center. “I felt like I had a specific skill set and I really wanted to donate my time to help others because I can. I know how fortunate we are here in the US because of various children I treat who emigrate here from other countries, and I wanted to help in any way I can.”
How did you do it?
“Our mission trip was organized through Medical Missions Foundation based out of the Kansas City area and they did most of the planning,” said Hilderman. “They made sure that we had a designated space at the hospital where we worked; they coordinated flight itineraries among the entire group, organized transportation to and from the airport in Guatemala City, hotel reservations, etc.”
“A Hearing Aid Dispenser friend has done a few mission trips in Micronesia and the Marshall Islands,” said Dr. Thompson. “I spoke with him and learned that Canvasback, the non-profit group he goes with, was planning a Mission Trip to Majuro in the Marshall Islands to provide ENT and audiological services. I contacted Canvasback and completed an application to be a part of their team. The advantage of going with an established group was that there was already infrastructure in place that facilitated the success of the mission. Personnel, equipment and facilities were already available.”
“To get my trip started, I connected with a friend who runs a not-for-profit that goes to Africa to provide medical services,” said Dr. Eisen. “They are adding hearing aids (and me) to the list of services they provide in Uganda.”
How did you collect supplies?
“We all pitched in our time to collect used and new BTE hearing aids, supplies and impression material from local audiology clinics, hearing health care suppliers and manufacturers,” said Hilderman. “We also decided to collect beanie babies, stuffed animals, and small toys from friends and family members to hand out in our “goodie bags” to patients. We asked local dental offices for toothbrushes and toothpaste donations. We were told they were a big hit with the patients in the past.”
“For the used hearing aids we collected, we cleaned them and made sure they were working properly,” she said. “We put them in the test box to see how much amplification they were currently providing and organized an audiogram from this information about what type of hearing loss the aid could be fit on.”
“I made lists of the items I needed and those that I wanted, and then I reached out to friends, hearing aid manufacturers, earmold labs, supply companies, and battery manufacturers for donations,” said Dr. Thompson. “I received donations of money, hearing aids, batteries, fitting and maintenance supplies (i.e. tubing, vacuum, stethoscopes, etc…), dry aid kits, earmold supplies and batteries.”
What tips do you have for others thinking of organizing a mission trip?
“Start planning early!” said Hilderman. “The earlier you start collecting donations, supplies, toys, and saving money to pay for the trip, the less stressed you will be when you are getting ready to depart.”
“I started planning my trip months ago and we still don’t have a set date for when it’s going to happen,” says Dr. Eisen. “Have patience. The Healthy World Foundation has various contacts in Uganda. I would never be able to do this trip without their contacts. A connection and partner like Resound is a necessity. ReSound was the only manufacturer out of 5 I contacted that followed through and offered help.”
“Make sure you have interpreter services, volunteers, or individuals on your team who speak the language of the country you’re visiting,” said Hilderman. “It is also helpful to learn some key phrases that you can use to communicate with patients. For example, ‘listen for the beep,’ ‘raise your hand even if it is very soft,’ ‘what color of earmold do you prefer?’ etc.”
Hilderman also advises that you take any valuables or important equipment necessary to do your job as a carry on during the flight. “We ended up taking our otoscopes, programming equipment, headlamp for cerumen removal, OAE machine, and portable audiometers as carry on items.”