March 10, 2018

Bringing Hope to Mozambique

By Jeffrey A. Manwaring, M.S., FAAA

 

I’m so grateful that The Sound of Life Foundation gave me the opportunity to go on a hearing mission trip, in January, to Africa. While I was just one of many who gave of themselves, my life changed for the better through providing this service. On this mission trip, over 600 men, women and children were helped through improved hearing, and thereby refining the quality of their lives.

Many individuals from Maputo, Mozambique acquired hearing loss for many different reasons. Some had hearing loss since birth. Others contracted Malaria as infants, had medications prescribed improperly to them or were involved in accidents that greatly affected their hearing.

There were many amazing stories that transpired during our visit. A 106-year-old gentleman was able to converse with his grandchildren for the first time, a university professor now has the opportunity to hear his students’ questions, and Cristina, an 89-year-old woman, spontaneously began dancing upon hearing again! Hundreds of children were also reconnected to their families with understanding and comprehension.

One story that truly touched me was Nolea’s. Nolea lived in a world of silence. Her circumstances were made more difficult by the treatment she received. As a result of her hearing loss, she was perceived as a problem child. In her mother’s words, “one who wouldn’t listen, and do as she was told.”  As a result, she was punished and beaten at home. She was also treated in an ill manner at school for being “slow and stupid.” She coped as best she could, but always felt as if she were less than. Nolea had never been tested for hearing loss, until January of 2018, where she was diagnosed with a severe to profound loss. Donated hearing devices were selected, fit and programmed for her specific needs. As they were placed on her, Nolea’s eyes widened as the sounds of life rushed in. She looked to her left, hearing Dr. Gandhi conferring with the translator. Then her gaze shifted to the right as I asked, “Tudo bem?”…is that okay? What started off as a small grin, turned into a huge “hearing smile” that spread across her face. She nodded in affirmation, and tears of joy began to form in the corners of her eyes. “Muito bom…muito muito bom,” she exclaimed, as our volunteer LDS missionary translated,”She said very, very good.” Nolea’s world was no longer silent.

A wise professor of mine, Dr. Steven Viehweg, long ago brandished his wallet in front of our ethics class. In a trembling voice, he issued us a challenge, “If this ever comes between you and serving others…it’s time to find a different occupation!!“ In like manner, I issue a similar challenge…to make a positive difference in the lives of others. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem, any act of kindness and service helps to improve the world we live in. And maybe along the way, we may improve ourselves just a little bit more as well, because if we lose ourselves in the service of others…that’s when we find true purpose and meaning in our own lives.

The Sound of Life Foundation continues this type of work on a consistent basis; serving not only globally, but locally as well. With large assistive programs to our regional Native American reservations, to as small as meeting the needs of a single individual. To help them continue this work in our local and global community please donate at soundoflifefoundation.org. For questions on how to volunteer or apply to receive aid through the foundation please email Franchesca Anderson: franchesca@soundoflifefoundation.org.

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