Since early 2023, we at Online-HearingAids have been busy putting our “Good Hearing for Everyone in Nepal” campaign into action. This was an initiative we started from our mission to make good hearing possible for everyone in the world. As part of this campaign, we raised over 20.000 euros to provide villages in remote areas of Nepal with clean and safe water.
“After a very long journey, we arrived in Soraha. A village that was close to the National Park. And it immediately felt like we were being thrown back 100 years into the past. There was no electricity, running water, insulation, or other modern facilities. We slept there on a mat on the ground in cottages made of wood with thatched roofs. No wonder we had no WiFi-signal here…”
Upon arrival, we immediately went to set up our equipment, as the first group of people was already waiting for us. We met a girl who had poor hearing and Jeff discovered a neglected ear infection. We later learned from an accompanying person that the girl was from an orphanage after losing her mother at a young age and last year her father as well.
In this photo, we see another boy from the same orphanage. We don’t know exactly how he ended up in the orphanage, but it would be that he either lost his parents or that his parents could no longer take care of him financially. The people from the orphanage suspected that the boy had trouble hearing. And indeed, we saw that he had a slight ear infection as well as conductive hearing loss. The ENT doctor here advised to keep the ears dry so that the ear infection does not continue, but otherwise, no hearing aids were needed.
Poor hygiene and lack of clean water keep ear infections from healing. And medication is hard to come by in these areas. Our team’s ENT doctor, Jeff Duyndam, cleaned her ears and prescribed antibiotics. The story of this girl and the conditions they live in actually had the most immediate impact on me.
After this first day, we immediately realized how difficult it is for these people to have normal basic services. For example, every day they have to walk for hours to find clean water. A doctor or hospital already takes almost a whole day of travel time, and there are wild animals lurking everywhere that are a danger to both children and adults. Tigers in particular are a big problem.
By far the most complaints we encountered at the Health Camp were ear infections. And I’m talking about really neglected ear infections. People could not get rid of the ear infections themselves and had been walking around with them for years. There were also many perforations in the eardrum. These are holes in the eardrum that eventually cause a severe ear infection, causing the eardrum to burst. And that again has to do with poor hygiene. People just don’t know how to keep their ears clean properly. And that cleaning with water is not good enough so people end up in a vicious circle they can’t get out of.
On Day 1 at the Health Camp, where we stayed after arriving, we came across a lot of children still in the village at 10 p.m. in the evening. They were still out until late at night playing barefoot close to the forest where there were just wild animals running around. I myself have children and young cousins. I found this a big difference with how we deal with our children in the Netherlands. It is just a very different way with how people there treat each other.
In this picture, you can see how we were received at HealthCamp #3. This was a village that was actually just a little bit more developed than where we were before. They even had electricity here. And these little kids who were with Jeff had prepared a song and sang it to Jeff. That was really heartfelt and fun!
On Day 2, we went to a different location: the Mali Valley. This was an area where there was no electricity or running water. In the background, you can see Jeff standing who had just helped this gentleman check for medical problems in his ears, such as an ear infection. This was not the case, so Jeff had written a prescription stating his findings. With this prescription, the gentleman went to the next station at the Health Camp, and that was with Gijs and Steven who then went to measure an audiogram on him.
Here you can see the station where Gijs, Steven, and I were doing an audiogram. This lady came all the way to the Health Camp. She didn’t live in the village where we had set up the Health Camp, but a few villages away. She came to us because she had poor hearing, i.e. hearing loss. The boy standing next to her is a volunteer who helped us with the translation.
On Day 3 we went to another new location and this one was one of the most developed villages so far. The people here could even speak a few words of English! We were still very grateful to have interpreters with us. In this picture, you can see a gentleman with quite severe hearing loss. A hearing loss of about 70-80 decibels on one side and on the other side he could no longer hear anything at all. For that reason, we fitted him here with a Widex Power hearing aid.
And this lady was also found to have hearing loss after Gijs took an audiogram. In the picture, you can see us explaining to this lady how to put in and take out the hearing aids, change batteries, and how to keep the hearing aids clean. The man you see on the right of the picture is also a volunteer who helped us with the translation and was able to explain the people well.
As part of our campaign – Good Hearing For Everyone In Nepal, we launched a donation campaign to raise €20,000 euros for the Child Welfare Organization Nepal. Among other things, this organization is committed to improving the living conditions of people in Nepal. A very important part of this goal was to drill wells in these remote villages. And thanks to, among others, the help of 249 donors, we were able to realize this goal!
When we were in Nepal, we happened to be able to see how they build such a new well. And that was very interesting to see because they don’t do that with a machine, but by hand. They drive a couple of very long steel pipes into the ground until they have clean drinking water. And you can see in this picture a couple of guys – including Steven – who are constantly pulling those pipes up and down. And when the tube is finally in place, you can see a tube to the left of the picture that they screw on so they can go even deeper. Until they find clean water that is safe enough to use. And then they mount the water pump.
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