Rodney Thompson is a Certified Clinical Audiologist at Thompson Audiology. He recently requested ReSound’s help in a Mission Trip to the Marshall Islands and we donated 15 Metrix hearing aids. We interviewed Dr. Thompson to learn more about his work in the Marshall Islands.
Why did you decide to participate in this mission trip?
I have seen friends do mission trips in Central America and Africa. I had previously spent two years on Majuro in the Marshall Islands. I loved the people and knew how to speak the language. I knew there was a great need for hearing aids that was not being met.
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 $1 per day.
How did you learn about this opportunity?
A Hearing Aid Dispenser friend has done a few mission trips in Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. 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. ENT and audiology services, including hearing aids, are not available in the Marshall Islands outside of mission trips like these.
I contacted Canvasback and completed an application to be a part of their team, which included: 1 audiologist (me), 4 ENTs, 1 Anesthesiologist, 1 Physician’s Assistant, 2 nurses, and 4 other support personnel.
I made lists of the items I needed and those that I wanted, then I reached out to friends, hearing aid manufacturers, earmold labs, supply companies, and battery manufacturers for donations. 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. I missed out on some donations due to time constraints. Every donation helps no matter how small.
While on Majuro I performed 170 audiological evaluations, fit 72 hearing aids and fit one BAHA.
I left supplies and batteries. I also trained one of the physicians how to do basic maintenance and troubleshooting of hearing aids.
I have included a summary of the services performed during the two week mission on Majuro.
What tips do you have for others thinking of organizing a mission trip?
Start planning at least one year ahead. Ask for donations at least six months in advance. Follow-up and perseverance are key in preparation and in receiving donations. Tell everyone about your plans because you never what doors will be open to you. Once on your mission trip, again it’s important to tell everyone about why you’re there and what you’re doing. Be ready to work. Do what you can to help those you can and don’t be discouraged about those you can’t.