· Global Health

A return trip to Haiti

By Gil Hanke

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti––The 3-member Hope of Hearing team returned to Haiti September 23-28 with the same purpose: to provide the gift of hearing to children who are deaf.

I have gone to Haiti nearly every year since my first life-changing trip in 1989.

New material, faster service

A new material to make the custom ear molds changed how our team completed our work.

On past trips, the children were fit with temporary molds and the custom molds were created back in the U.S. It was months before their custom molds arrived in Haiti.

This trip, the children were tested one day and had hearing aids and custom molds the next.

This new approach made for longer days and shorter nights, but it was a much faster way to provide the gift of hearing to Haitian children.

An open day

We worked for three days at a school in Port au Prince area, but I scheduled an “open day” to be directed by needs that might became apparent. I knew that providing an open day would enable us to see where God might lead us to provide additional service opportunities.

Our team uses the services of the Methodist Guest House, which places us in contact with other missionaries.

There has always been informal communication with those who have ongoing missions in Haiti. Some are engaged in water filtration, others are building additions to churches, and others, like Ellen Palmer (PhD, RN), have formal relationships with several hospitals in Haiti.

New opportunity in a familiar place

Ellen emailed two hospitals prior to the team’s arrival, and with additional help from longtime English friends stationed in Haiti, our team was able to spend our open day at a Methodist school associated with King’s Hospital in one of the poorest areas of the city.

We tested 323 children and a few adults and fit 61 children and 1 adult with powerful hearing aids. We also discovered some mild medical issues in a few children.

Ironically, we completed this testing at school clinic where I worked during my first visit to Haiti in 1989.

Smaller team

Our 3-member team was smaller than those established in previous trips. In the past, we invited and partially funded a graduate or doctoral student in audiology to accompany us.

However, recent demonstrations in Haiti made it unwise to add an inexperienced member to our team at this time.

The Hope of Hearing is an endorsed ministry of the General Commission on UM Men. They accept financial donations and donations of behind-the-ear hearing aids at 3644 Burwick Place, Antioch, TN 37013.

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