UM team provides gift of hearing to 99 Haitians

CAP HAITIAN, Haiti––A five-member Hope of Hearing team, led by Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, tested 170 children and adults, and they fit 99 with hearing aids at a Roman Catholic school on the northern coast of this island nation.

The Sept. 13-18 visit was Hanke’s 26th annual trip to Haiti.

Hanke, a certified speech/language pathologist, was accompanied by Sally Muhlbach, Angela White, and Ricardo Gauthier, each holding a doctorate in audiology. Kathryn Rawls, a doctoral student in audiology attending the University of Texas at Austin, joined with the team.

“Haiti impacted me in the most profound way, said Rawls. “My heart is hooked on doing more.”

The team worked in Institut Marie Louise de Jesus, a school related to Institut Montfort in the suburbs of Port au Prince where the team had worked many times.

It had been 20 years since the team last visited the Cap Haitian school, so none of the children had been previously tested.

“In both schools, the nuns and teachers work closely together and appreciate the team’s careful testing of all the children and some adults,” said Hanke.

Adults also receives gift of hearing

A Kenyan missionary and his wife traveled several hours to bring a friend to see the team. The friend had lost his hearing when he was 12 years old. “He left with a powerful hearing aid that matched his significant hearing loss,” said Hanke. “He left with a smile that lit up the room. The three left praising God for what they had received.”

Most of the hearing aids were donated by hearing-aid companies, but some were donated by individuals.

The team will accept any hearing aid sent to them, but the ones that are of the greatest benefit are behind-the-ear.

The team also brought a $1,000 worth of hearing aid batteries which should last about a year.

They raise funds from individuals, churches and civic organizations. “Our largest donor is the Nashville Rotary Club, whose gifts have really helped to move the mission forward,” said Hanke.

Team members also said they were delighted to have Kathryn on the team. “We knew this would be a life changing experience for her in so many ways,” said Hanke.

Female members of the team stayed in guest quarters in the convent, the men stayed in a small dorm in the monastery next door. The singing of the grace before meals, and the bells calling for a time of prayer gave the team a peek at the peace-filled pattern of life within these sacred places of education of children with special needs.

A side trip

The team wanted to experience the history of Haiti, so they joined several nuns on a half-day visit to The Citadel, a massive fort and palace built atop a mountain in the early 1800s. On a clear day you can see the coast of Cuba from the fortress. “We hiked until we were worn out, and then rode horses the rest of the climb,” said Hanke. Some 20,000 Haitians died in constructing the fort, but it was never finished and never used.

The team is planning another trip to Haiti in 2017.

The Hope of Hearing is an endorsed ministry of the General Commission on UM Men.



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