Throughout the past year, Specsavers Audiologists has been supporting Sound Seekers with the launch of the Hearing Aid Refurbishment Project (HARP) in Lusaka, Zambia.
The project collects unwanted hearing aids from customers in the UK and reconditions them to be sent to Beit Cure Hospital in Zambia and dispensed to those suffering from hearing loss.
Investing in people
Specsavers has invested more than £42,000 into the project so far, which has been used to purchase specialist equipment and provide training and employment to those living in Zambia (check it is just this area). The HARP project now employs three young Zambians to clean and recalibrate the hearing aids including one deaf man, Gideon, who could only find work in manual labour before joining the project.
Gideon said: ‘I finished school when I was 20 years old and started doing manual labour, carrying water for people and cleaning people’s gardens but now I thank Sound Seekers for welcoming me to work on this project. I am the one who supports my family now because I have an income.’
Helping people across Africa
Over the past year, the HARP team has separated and sorted over 2,000 hearing aids, 800 of which have been refurbished and distributed across Malawi, Cameroon, Zambia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia to help people with hearing loss.
Emma Judge, CEO of Sound Seekers, said: ‘Not only does HARP recalibrate unused hearing aids, funds are also invested in training, development and salaries for the HARP team.’
Life changing experience
One young girl whose life has changed as a result of HARP is 16-year-old Hope from Blantyre in Malawi. Hope suffered from ear infections from a young age and after contracting meningitis her hearing deteriorated. In January this year, she received her first pair of refurbished hearing aids donated by a Specsavers customer in the UK.
Hope, who is very happy with her hearing aids, said: ‘When I didn’t have hearing aids, I was struggling at school. I can only hear a little without them. The difference they have made is that I can hear people speaking to me and I can understand what they are saying’.
In the second year of the project funds will continue to go towards wages for the HARP team, audiology consumables and shipping costs, as well as supporting other charity projects in need of hearing aids. HARP is already expanding and has sent 100 refurbished hearing aids to Bamalete Lutheran Hospital in Ramotswa, Botswana.
Visit your local Specsavers Audiologists to donate your old hearing aids.