The Hear the World Foundation has been involved in campaigns for better hearing all over the world for more than five years. The foundation, which was established by the Swiss hearing instrument manufacturer Phonak, promotes equal opportunities and a better quality of life for people disadvantaged by their hearing loss. Its particular focus is on supporting children with hearing loss, enabling them to develop at an appropriate rate for their age. In 2011, the foundation provided 15 aid projects in 12 countries with hearing instruments as well as financial support amounting to over CHF 520,000.
Hearing loss is an issue that continues to be underestimated, even though the facts tell a different story: On a global scale, hearing loss affects 16 percent of the world's population. Yet many people forget that hearing loss means far more than just poor hearing. People with untreated hearing loss often have to struggle with social isolation, disadvantages in their professional lives and even depression. In developing countries, where 2,000 children are born with impaired hearing every day, the consequences of hearing loss are even more serious. These children barely stand a chance of learning to speak correctly;they are excluded at school and therefore end up being ostracized in society.
"The Hear the World Foundation can look back on a busy and eventful year. 2011 has seen us acquire outstanding new partners all over the world and enhance our existing networks and partnerships. I am personally delighted that more and more children with hearing loss who are being cared for and supported by us are making tremendous progress and being given a real chance in life - even though their living conditions are often difficult," says Alexander Zschokke, President of the Hear the World Foundation.
Sustainable support rather than a flash in the pan: this is the key criterion for all Hear the World Foundation projects. This means, for example, that for every donation of hearing instruments, fittings and regular follow-up checks by experts on location, as well as a continuous supply of batteries, are also provided. In the case of children in particular, supplementary measures such as speech therapy to ensure age-appropriate speech development are often required as well. Examples of our long-term cooperation with local partners include projects in Kenya (from page 8 in the Activity Report), Cambodia (see page 18), Canada (see page 28) and the Dominican Republic (see page 36). In these projects, we have managed to build on our firm foundations and expand our strong medical care network. All of the information on these and other projects can be found at www.hear-the-world.com/de/dieinitiative/die-stiftung/projekte.html.
A particular highlight of 2011 was our inaugural collaboration with the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens (Greece). With more than 7,000 participants from 170 countries, the Special Olympics are not only a unique sporting event, but also the world's biggest health program for people with intellectual disabilities. It emerged that around a quarter of the athletes involved were affected by hearing loss, yet many of them had not been provided with hearing instruments. The Hear the World Foundation donated a total of 344 high-quality hearing instruments to the Special Olympics participants and arranged free follow-up care in their home countries. You can find out more about this project in the Activity Report, starting from page 34.