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Last Saturday saw the culmination of a weeklong mission with the Starkey Hearing Foundation providing free hearing aids and batteries for life to Vincentians in need.

This initiative was the brainchild of the Rotary Club of St. Vincent South, which reached out to Starkey upon learning of their hearing missions in other countries.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation is headquartered in Minnesota, United States, and is owned by Bill Austin, who believes his purpose is to provide “the gift of hearing” to those with hearing impediments and who are unable to afford the ongoing expense of hearing aids and batteries.

Hearing aids alone cost upwards of EC$2,500 each. The Starkey Foundation has provided this gift to hearing-impaired persons in over 100 countries to date, including Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and Jamaica.

The Rotary Club of St. Vincent South had met with visiting representatives of Starkey on several occasions to organise the mission, and to also meet with the Ministry of Health to obtain their assistance by way of resources of personnel and venues.

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Rotary South contributed to the mission by providing transportation for the team; meals for staff, trainees and patients; administration; and covering the expenses for rental of chairs and tents on training and mission day.

The mission saw approximately 33 Starkey team members, comprising U.S. and regional staff, providing assistance to the various aspects of the mission. The initial phase provided training over a two-day period for 40 Vincentian nurses and volunteers in assessing, testing, fitting, educating and counselling the hearing-impaired.

On mission day, antibiotics were also prescribed for those with ear infections.

The venue for mission day was the Arnos Vale hard courts, where over 180 hearing-impaired persons from across the nation were fitted with free hearing aids and batteries for life.

Rotary Club of St. Vincent South said it was overwhelmed by the generosity of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, and are truly blessed to be a part of this experience.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation will be returning in the future to follow up with current patients and to continue their mission here. The public will be informed when the mission plans to return.

Rotary South continues its mission to provide service to Vincentians in an effort to improve lives and uplift communities throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We have other ambitious projects in mind for the future, but we need more volunteers to realise these dreams. We would encourage anyone who has a passion and commitment for helping those in need to reach out to us and become a Rotarian,’ the club said.

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