UM team provides gift of hearing to 80 Haitian children
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti––The four-member Hope of Hearing team, led by Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, tested 359 students in four days at three different schools.
Hanke and three audiologists fit 80 students with 142 hearing aids, and referred two for medical treatment.
The Dec. 6-12 trip was scheduled at a time when the elections for the president of Haiti had been completed. “I’ve been to Haiti just prior to elections and political demonstrations can really impede your movement to worksites,” said Hanke who has made 25 annual trips to the island nation.
When the team arrived they found that the elections were being contested, but political demonstrations were easily avoided and interruptions to their work were minimal.
The team placed their travel safety in the hands of skilled Haitian drivers who are staff members of the Methodist Guest House. “Driving in Haiti is a contact sport,” said Hanke. “It is something I would never attempt. This Port au Prince facility is the team’s base camp and is run mostly by the Methodist Church of Haiti with some coordination from UM Volunteers in Mission.”
“The team had an amazing week,” said Hanke. “Three weeks before leaving the U.S., final confirmations from schools were slow in coming. But in God’s time, everything fell into place. The first two days the team tested children in two different schools for the deaf, and, when appropriate, fit them with one and sometimes two hearing aids. The equipment was donated from several sources.” This is the first time the team has had the number of quality hearing aids to fit children in both ears.
The next two days the team screened children at Respire Haiti, a 4-year-old school serving 500 vulnerable students. This was the first time the team had visited that school.
Hanke said the Respire school is a result of faith, miracles, and the creative work of young persons in the U.S. partnering with a community in Haiti. The story of this school is captured in the book, Miracle on Voodoo Mountain, available from many U.S. stores.
The team plans to return in the spring of 2016 to work in a large school in a more isolated part of the country.
These trips are supported by many generous gifts from UMM, UM churches, and several Rotary Clubs.