Gil Hanke meets with Joulie who had just been fit with new hearing aids from Hear the World Foundation.
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti––It’s a miracle of biblical proportions, says Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men.
During the week of Oct. 6, a six-member Hope of Hearing mission team tested 351 children and fit 97 with hearing aids.
It was Hanke’s 26th trip to the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. This time he led a team of three audiologists, one audiometric technician, a college freshman. Hanke served as the speech pathologist. Most of the team was from Texas with support from Texas Annual Conference, UM Men and others.
“Each day we were at a different location, and each day was a special blessing,” said Hanke.
“Eight days before we left the US we did not have enough hearing aids to do what we expected to do,” said Hanke. “But within that last week, donations came in from several sources and every child we tested who could benefit from a hearing aid got one. God is good.”
“The roads are much better, and overall the country is cleaner,” said Hanke, who also led two mission teams rebuilding the area following the 2010 earthquake.
“There continues to be massive construction, including a high rise Marriott Hotel in downtown Port au Prince. There are no longer tent cities, and most of the damaged buildings have been cleared, but not rebuilt.”
While working at the Haiti Deaf Children’s Home at the Mission of Hope, Executive Director Kathryn Montoya gave the team a tour of the school. They were joined by a team from Hear the World Foundation.
She explained the newest students who are deaf share the same classroom. They are of different ages, but are on the same communication level. Many of these children have been abandoned by their parents due to their disability.
“They come to us without anything; no possessions of any kind and our newest student came to us without even a name” said Montoya.
The next classroom they visited was filled with active children, making some speech attempts and signing to their two teachers. Both teachers remembered Hanke; one from another school where she taught over a decade ago, and the other teacher had been a student in another school where Hanke and his team had worked.
Hanke says the Hear the World Foundation and the Hope of Hearing teams worked well together. “The Foundation fit children from the home, and our team worked with some of the more than 300 adults who are deaf in that community,” says Hanke.
Assistance for Hope of Hearing comes from several sources. The team receives donations of hearing aids and batteries from individuals and manufacturers. Several civic clubs, churches, UM Men groups, and individuals also provide funding.