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Disadvantaged Panama Kids Get Gift of Hearing

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Disadvantaged Panama Kids Get Gift Of Hearing

Alejandro from the interior hears his mother's voice for the first time

By David Young

MIRACLES are a rare commodity,  and to witness one in the making a rare opportunity, but three took place in Panama recently for children from disadvantaged families who for the first time heard their mother’s speak.


Ivanna, realizes that she can hear her mother

Seeing  the surprised face of a young child hearing sound from the lips of a mother for the first time is an inspiring and heartwarming  memory to be treasured.

It was the final stage in a project initiated by the  Swiss based Hear The World Foundation and their local project partner the Fundación Pro Integración (FUNPROI) that had started months before with the assessment of children with profound hearing loss, with three finally chosen to get the gift of hearing through cochlear implants.

The painstaking selection process involved  a strict medical protocol and evaluating the parents to ensure that they would be able to attend pre –implant training lectures  and play a continuing  active role in the intensive three times a week follow up monitoring sessions including speech therapy over several years.

The implants surgeries were done at Hospital de Especialidades Pediátricas , and the completion of the    miracle took place at the Fundación Pro Integración offices in Marbella, without political fanfare and photo ops.


Josmar with his mother realizes he has the gift of hearing

The computerized activation process was conducted by a Hear the World volunteer and Advanced Bionics Clinical Manager and supported by FUNPROI staff.

The  engagement was a pinnacle to  the support the Hear the World Foundation has provided to the Panamanian non-profit organization since 2013 and marked another milestone in the Swiss foundation’s 10-year history.

If left untreated, hearing loss can have serious consequences, particularly for children.

Children who cannot hear, or can barely hear, do not learn to speak and, in many countries, are not able to attend school, which lowers their chances of pursuing a career and leading an independent life.

Until now, children who did not benefit from even the most powerful hearing aids have been denied the chance of better hearing. That’s why for the first time, the Hear the World Foundation donated implants to the three Panamanian children, in collaboration with Sonova subsidiary Advanced Bionics.

A Cochlea Implant is an electronic hearing prosthesis with two components: the implant which is placed under the skin by  surgery and the speech processor with a headset which is worn behind the ear or on the body.

The usual cost of the procedure ranges from $25 000 to $30,000 without the follow up trainings programs say local authorities

“The first cochlear implants donation is an important step for us,” says Lukas Braunschweiler, President of the Hear the World Foundation. “By leveraging another advanced technology from the Sonova product portfolio, we can now also give the gift of hearing to children with profound or total hearing loss.”

A statement on the Hearing Foundation’s  web site  says:

“Although Panama is ranked the second most competitive economy in Latin America according to the World Economic Forum,  a large percentage  of the population is living in poverty, and is lacking access to audiological care.

“ While the health sector is making major progress in terms of its audiological care infrastructure, the state-run healthcare system can only cover the costs of audiological care for a handful of those living in poverty.”

That is why, since 2013, the Hear the World Foundation has supported supports the Fundación pro Integración (FUNPROI, www.funproi.org), one of the few institutions in the country which closes this gap by providing ear medical care to children living in poverty. By providing hearing aids, funding and expertise, hundreds of children have been helped.

FUNPROI was honored with the Richard Seewald Award in 2014, an annual recognition by the Hear the World Foundation to honor outstanding engagements.



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Implants give disadvantaged Panama kids new future


Panama  became the first beneficiary of hearing implants donated by the Hear the World Foundation to disadvantaged children when they were  successfully activated. in February. (see video)

 STAEFA, SWITZERLAND: A dream came true for three disadvantaged children in Panama when their cochlear implants (CI) were successfully activated.

They are the first to be provided with hearing implants in the ten-year history of the Hear the World Foundation.

This is a significant milestone for the foundation and its Panama project partner FUNPROI as with CIs, the gift of hearing can even be given to people who do not benefit from even the most powerful hearing aids.

Donating cochlear implants is a challenge because it involves surgery and requires closely monitored care before and after activation.

hearing2.jpgAt activation, around six weeks after the operation, emotions were high: the eyes of Ivana. 3, Jozmar,4,  and Alejandro, 4, started to light up. You could see in their eyes that something wonderful and fundamental had changed in their lives – they ccou hear properly for the first time. It was a big day for the three Panamanian children who all come from disadvantaged families.: They stepped into a new world in which they can hear and  have the opportunity to learn to speak, to go to school, and to lead an independent life. These successful activations mark a milestone for the Hear the World Foundation and the local non-profit organization Fundación Pro Integración (FUNPROI), which the Swiss foundation has been supporting with funding, hearing aids, and expertise since 2013.



“Donating cochlear implants allows us to give the gift of hearing to those children who cannot benefit from even the most powerful hearing aids and therefore offer them  better opportunities for the future,” says Sarah Kreienbuehl, Group Vice President of Corporate HRM and Corporate Communications at Sonova and a member of the Hear the World Foundation Board.

“Donating the first cochlear implants is an important step for the Hear the World Foundation, and we hope we can bring this kind of support to projects all over the world, and help many more children on their way to a better life.”

Ensuring  sustainability
The Hear the World foundation understands that just donating cochlear implants is not enough. Professional follow-up care is an equally important part of thr fpunfation’s engagement and support. Experts from Sonova’s subsidiary Advanced Bionics also play a major role in ongoing care. They support the project locally, control the activation of the CIs, and pass on their expertise to the FUNPROI audiologists so the children will continue to receive follow-up care in future. Over the following two to three years , the children will receive regular audiological monitoring of the cochlear implants as well as speech training three times a week to compensate for their current speech deficiencies and to prepare them for school.

Their parents are trained in how to handle CIs and also receive tips on playful ways to support their children in their speech training at home. With all of these measures, the Hear the World Foundation not only enables children to hear, but also ensures sustainable all-round audiological care in accordance with international standards.

In 2014, FUNPROI was presented with the Hear the World Foundation’s Richard Seewald Award for extraordinary commitment. www.funproi.org/


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Swiss Foundation benefits Panama and world

A Panama child heard his mother's voice for the first time

STAEFA, Switzerland  – The Hear the World Foundation which  recently brought the gift and  joy of hearing to  three Panama children provided 2.58 million Swiss Francs during its last fiscal year   to support 23 aid projects around the world, helping people in need with hearing loss.

Compared with the previous year, the value of the foundation’s donations increased by 40 percent. The foundation also donated cochlear implants to disadvantaged children for the first time – a milestone in the foundation’s ten-year history.

The past fiscal year was a success for the Hear the World Foundation in a number of ways: It was able to donate 40 percent more resources to its 23 aid projects in 22 countries than in the previous year. “As a leading provider of hearing solutions, Sonova envisions a world where everybody can enjoy the delight of hearing and therefore live  a life without limitations. The Hear the World Foundation, a Sonova corporate foundation, is also making this vision a reality for people in need,” says Lukas Braunschweiler, President of the Hear the World Foundation and CEO of Sonova. Last year, the foundation donated more hearing technology and provided more expert support than in the previous year: Sonova employees helped to professionally fit over 1,200 hearing aids, install wireless microphone systems, and  in Panama successfully activate the first cochlear implants (CIs) donated by the foundation.

Moving moments
There were  moving moment when Jozmar (4), Alejandro (4), and Ivana (3) – three children in need from Panama – were able to hear their mothers’ voices for the first time in their lives after their CIs were successfully activated. They are the first children to be provided with hearing implants in the history of the Hear the World Foundation, which stretches back over ten years.

This is a milestone for the foundation’s work, as CIs enable even people with profound hearing loss to hear. The three children now have the chance to learn to speak, attend school, and later lead an independent life. Donating CIs is particularly challenging for the Hear the World Foundation because it does not just strive to successfully implant and activate the CIs, but also to provide sustainable audiological follow-up care.

This requires local specialists and resources that are often lacking in the countries in question. In the 2016/17 fiscal year, the foundation thus also stepped up its investment in professional support and sent some 40 experts – all Sonova employees – to visit projects. “With their voluntary work, our employees build the necessary local expertise, allowing us to guarantee the provision of long-term audiological care and also create local jobs – a key element of the foundation’s effective work,” explains Braunschweiler. With this knowledge transfer, the Hear the World Foundation ensures that the resources used can be as helpful as possible, including in the long term, ensuring sustainable audiological comprehensive care.

Founded in 2006 by Sonova, the Hear the World Foundation supports disadvantaged people with hearing loss around the world and gets involved in hearing loss prevention. The foundation focuses particularly on projects for children with hearing loss, enabling them to develop to their fullest potential

Since its establishment, the non-profit Swiss foundation has supported over 80 projects in 39 countries with funding, hearing aid technology and expertise. More than 100 high-profile ambassadors, such as Bryan Adams, Cindy Crawford, Plácido Domingo, Annie Lennox, and Sting support Hear the World as ambassadors for conscious hearing. www.hear-the-world.com



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Swiss Foundation brings gift of hearing to 7  needy Panama kids

Isai concentrates and listens inwardly – then as his implant is activated he hears a sound
Post Views: 58
Two Foundations Swiss and Panamanian. are teaming  to bring the gift of hearing to needy children in Panama and creating lasting memories for all the volunteers involved and the Newsroom Panama staff who were fortunate enough to witness the wonder on a child’s face hearing a mother’s voice for the first time.

Stäfa, Switzerland – “Isai” A three-year-old Panamanian boy from a needy family who has lived with profound hearing loss since the age of one can hear again and is learning to talk with the chance to get an education thanks to a cochlear implant (CI) from the Hear the World Foundation.

But he still has a lot of practice to do before he will be able to articulate correctly and without professional speech therapy, along with his parents’ time and assistance, this would be impossible

He is the seventh Panama child with the gift of hearing enabled by the Foundation  to  face the additional challenges  of  growing up in a low income family  in a country with the highest  per-capita income in Latin America

In 2017, for the first time in its ten-year history, the Hear the World Foundation made hearing possible for three needy children with profound hearing loss in Panama, with donated cochlear implants.


Isai with mother and aunt

In January this year, implants were successfully activated for four more children including Isai.

Six weeks later a  Hear the World Foundation team traveled to Panama with CI experts from the Sonova subsidiary Advanced Bionics, to oversee the activation.

For Isai and three other children aged between two and four, the day marked the beginning of a new chapter in life: they can now hear, which gives them a chance to acquire speech, to obtain school education and to live independent lives.

Isai was born with healthy hearing. but as a premature baby, he was given medication, that damaged his hearing and he suffered profound hearing loss. Like most families in Panama, Isai’s family was unable to raise the thousands of dollars for an implant but thanks to the Hear the World Foundation, the complicated procedure was carried out professionally, at no cost to the family. However  that is only the beginning.


Moises hears his mother’s voice for the first time

Sustained commitment
“CI donation is a major challenge because, alongside the surgical procedure, it also calls for particularly intensive follow-up care,” says,  Elena Torresani Director of the Hear the World initiative. “We are glad that we can count on the know-how of Advanced Bionics here.” Not only do the experts support the project on site and oversee the activations, they also pass on their comprehensive knowledge to local project partner FUNPROI’s audiologists in Panama, so they can monitor the CIs and conduct speech therapy.

“Isai will now also have three speech training sessions a week. to acquire what hearing children learn quite naturally in the first years of their lives. For the learning to be a success, the parents also have an important role to play: they are taught how to handle CIs and are given tips on how they can playfully assist their children at home.

“With all these measures, the Foundation not only makes it possible for children to hear but also guarantees sustained audiological all-round care in compliance with international standards.

Although Panama is one of the richest countries in Latin America, 26 percent of the population live in poverty. While  the CSS  is making considerable progress in hearing care, it only covers the costs of hearing solutions and speech therapy for a fraction of the population

FUNPROI (Fundación Pro Integración) is one of the country’s few institutions that bridges the gap in state healthcare and provides professional hearing care for needy children and youths with hearing loss, free of charge. The Hear the World Foundation has been assisting FUNPROI since 2013.

Founded in 2006 by Sonova,  the Hear the World Foundation actively commits to needy people with hearing loss all around the world, particularly facilitating projects that benefit children to achieve age-appropriate development. Since its founding, the  Swiss foundation has supported over 90 aid projects in 39 countries by providing funds, hearing technology and expertise More than 100 celebrity ambassadors, including stars like Bryan Adams, Cindy Crawford, Plácido Domingo, Annie Lennox and Sting, support the Foundation. www.hear-the-world.com/en

FUNPROI provides cost-free examinations, professional audiological care with hearing aids, and speech therapy. In 2014, FUNPROI received the Richard Seewald Award from the Hear the World Foundation for its extraordinary dedication. www.funproi.org




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