Hear the World Foundation: Stepping into a new future with cochlear implant donations

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The first hearing implants donated to disadvantaged children in Panama have been successfully activated

For the first time in his life Jozmar hears what is happening around him.

Finally able to hear: this 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 local 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.

At 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 can see in their eyes that something wonderful and fundamental has changed in their lives – they can hear properly for the first time. It was a big day for the three children from Panama, who all come from disadvantaged families. They stepped into a new world in which they can hear and therefore 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.”

Transfer knowledge – ensure 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 Hear the World’s engagement and support. The 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.

About the Hear the World Foundation
With the help of the non-profit Hear the World Foundation, Sonova promotes equal opportunities and a higher quality of life for people experiencing hearing loss. As a leading provider of hearing solutions, Sonova takes its social responsibility seriously and plays its part in working toward a world where every person has the chance to hear well. The Hear the World Foundation is therefore committed to helping underprivileged people around the world who experience hearing loss and plays an active part in prevention. The foundation particularly supports projects that help children affected by hearing loss, to ensure that they develop properly for their age. Since it was founded in 2006, the Swiss foundation has already supported over 80 projects in 39 countries, helping thousands of people to improve their hearing. More than 100 high-profile ambassadors support the Hear the World Foundation, including stars such as Bryan Adams, Cindy Crawford, Plácido Domingo, Annie Lennox, and Sting. http://www.hear-the-world.com

About Fundación Pro Integración
The Fundación Pro Integración (FUNPROI) is a non-profit organization with the mission of improving the quality of life of people with hearing loss and impaired mobility in Panama and helping them to break free from isolation. It focuses on people who have very limited resources available or are living in poverty. As one of the few institutions in the country that specializes in supporting adolescents with hearing loss, FUNPROI offers free examinations, professional audiological treatment with hearing aids, and speech therapy. In 2014, FUNPROI was presented with the Hear the World Foundation’s Richard Seewald Award for extraordinary commitment.

More information about the joint project including a video can be found here

Link to the video on YouTube

Corresponding images to download in ready-to-print resolution find here:

For more information, please contact:

Hear the World Foundation
Louise Kaben
E-mail: louise.kaben(at)hear-the-world(dot)com     
Tel: +41 58 928 01 01

US Public Relations                 
Beth Fichtel                    
E-mail: brgelbert(at)yahoo(dot)com     
Phone: +1 (914) 588-2695        

Cassandra Hegarty
E-mail: cassandra.hegarty(at)gmail(dot)com
Phone: +1 (917) 653-4038

Note: A version of this press release and the video are available in Spanish upon request

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Cassandra Hegarty
CLH Communications & Consulting
+1 (917) 653-4038
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Beth Fichtel

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