Armenia Hearing Mission
Meet Ailbhe Lennon, a passionate audiologist hailing from Advanced Hearing Blackrock. Ailbhe embarked on an extraordinary journey to Armenia as part of a hearing mission orchestrated by the renowned Starkey Hearing Foundation. Amidst a team of 14 other hearing specialists from the UK, Ailbhe travelled over 2,400 miles to Yerevan, the capital city, at the end of May.
This mission marked a significant chapter in the global initiative led by the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which has distributed over 1.9 million hearing devices across more than 100 countries. Their noble mission? To bestow the invaluable gift of hearing upon those who need it most.
The statistics are staggering. According to the World Health Organisation, over 360 million people worldwide suffer from disabling hearing loss, with a disproportionate number residing in developing countries. Shockingly, less than three percent of these individuals have access to affordable hearing aids or the necessary healthcare services. However, organisations like the Starkey Hearing Foundation are tirelessly striving to change this reality. Through forging robust partnerships, empowering local healthcare teams, and implementing their innovative Community-Based Hearing HealthCare model, they are making significant strides in addressing this global health disparity.
The impact of their work has garnered support from influential figures like Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, and Elton John. During Ailbhe's mission in Armenia, even Sir Elton John himself made a memorable visit to the Hayk and Elza Titizian Children’s Rehabilitation Centre in Yerevan, where he met with the Armenian president and the esteemed founder and CEO of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, William Austin.
Ailbhe's involvement in the mission didn't begin in Armenia. She had previously joined the initial stage of the endeavour last October, collaborating closely with local teams to fit over 1,800 Armenians with hearing devices. However, her most recent trip saw over 1,000 more individuals benefitting from the gift of hearing aids.
Reflecting on her experiences, Ailbhe recalls numerous heartwarming moments. However, one encounter, in particular, remains etched in her memory. A shy 6-year-old boy, accompanied by his mother and grandmother, arrived to be fitted with hearing aids. Initially reserved, his demeanour transformed as the hearing aids were activated, illuminating his face with an infectious smile. This poignant moment served as a poignant reminder of the profound impact of their work.
In Ailbhe's own words, "Having the gift of hearing means that they can accomplish more than they ever thought was possible, changing people’s lives and it allows children to connect in schools." Her experience with the Starkey Hearing Foundation has left an indelible mark on her, reinforcing the profound significance of their mission to bring the world together through the power of hearing.
As William F. Austin, the visionary founder and CEO of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, aptly stated, "Alone we can’t do much, together we can change the world. So the world may hear." Ailbhe's journey with the Starkey Hearing Foundation exemplifies the transformative impact that can be achieved when individuals unite to create positive change on a global scale.