Over 2,200 kids to get free hearing aids

“I want her to hear my voice. I want her to call me, Amma. My heart broke, when doctors told me few years back, that my daughter Nagarathna cannot speak as she is deaf.

However, if she can hear again, there are hopes that she may speak,” said Lakshmi.

She was one of the many anxious parents, who were waiting with their hearing impaired children, to meet the ear mould technicians so that their children can receive free hearing aids.

Lakshmi, who works as a maid, is struggling to make ends meet to support her family. She cannot afford a good hearing aid, as it costs over Rs 30,000. The initiative taken up by Starkey Hearing Foundation of distributing free hearing aids in association with Indian Red Cross Society and Sarava Shiksha Abhiyan is a ray of hope to Nagarathana and over 90 other children gathered at the Integrated Education Resource Centre at Gandhinagar in Mangalore on Saturday.

Zeenath from Sullia, had come to Mangalore with her children Azmeen and Falhad who are both hearing and speech impaired. "I hail from a BPL family. It is very difficult to manage two deaf children. Starkey Foundation's initiative is my only hope," she said.

Venkappa, a daily wage labourer from Puttur has accompanied his two sons Chetan and Praveen, who both are hearing and speech impaired. "It is very difficult to survive in India with physical disabilities and poverty. My children attend government school as there is no special school in the region, where we stay. I am very worried about the future of my sons," he said and hoped that the hearing of his sons can be restored.

Starkey Hearing Foundation Regional Manager Akhil Chauhan told Deccan Herald, that Starkey has distributed over 65,000 free hearing aids to children from different parts of the country since 2007.

Around 1,500 children in Shimoga, Chamrajnagar, Mysore, Udupi, Bangalore, Mangalore have already been tested. There are plans to distribute free hearing aids to 2200 children, all over the state, he said. The children between ages 6 to 14 will be given hearing aids for both ears, along with soft ear mould and one ear battery, free of cost.

The audiologists from the Foundation, are presently touring different districts and collecting the ear moulds of the beneficiaries. All the kids will receive the hearing aid, at a three-day camp that will be held in Bangalore soon after Deepavali, which will also be attended by CEO of Starkey Foundation Bill Austin and his team from the USA.

After Mangalore, the ear mould technicians, will be visiting North Karnataka, he added.

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