Hear Haiti: Making a Difference

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Jason Norby is a Principal Clinical Specialist at Advanced Bionics LLC. He enjoys sarcasm and long walks in the park. His favorite dogs are puppies, and his favorite color is light tan.

Day 6

It’s the end of a long work week. I could feel it in the part of my brain that logs hours slept versus hours awake and energy expended. The summary: not enough sleep to offset the hours awake and energy consumed. It’s been a long week. But you know the feeling when something was mentally and physically taxing, yet the intrinsic reward was worth the cost? It was that kind of week and very worthwhile.

The day started with a trip to a school atop a Caribbean mountain to fit three children with hearing aids. The school sat overlooking the coast and green hills nearby. We made this trip to the school earlier this week. The drive  earlier this week up the rutted dirt road was epic with bouncing and jostling for several minutes, and the occasional sound of wheels loudly rebelling as they tried to gain traction. The small four-cylinder engine strained in rebellion to the load and incline. Today however, the dark clouds more than hinted of rain.

It wasn’t even a question, Cathy Jones, our trip director, flatly said, “We aren’t driving up the mountain because if it rains, we will be in trouble.” Continue reading

Hear Haiti: The Gift of Hearing

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Michael Lumunsad is a Strategic Marketer at Advanced Bionics

Day 5

“Oh man, we’re stuck!” I yelled as our mighty little Toyota HiAce hit a gigantic puddle on the dirt road.

The rear wheels were spinning and our vehicle was sliding around in the mud. I looked out of the side window and it looked like we landed in a lake.

“Do we have a tow winch?” I asked John our fixer/translator/security guy.

“We don’t need a winch.” he said as he looked at me with a smile.Apparently, getting stuck in mud is a common thing for these guys. Our driver started rocking the car back and forth but wasn’t getting anywhere. The 2nd van stopped and started to assess our situation. The driver of the second van got into our van through the window opening like he were one of the Duke Brothers and took over driving duties. John was piling rocks underneath our rear tires while the rest of us in the van were enjoying the impromptu carnival ride. Continue reading

Hear Haiti: It Takes A Team

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Michael Lumunsad is a Strategic Marketer at Advanced Bionics LLC. 

Day 4

“I hope this van makes it up the hill,” Mohamed Khaldi excitedly said as our van went uphill on the extremely steep dirt road. Personally, I didn’t think the van would make it up with all our gear and passengers, but it proved me wrong. Who needs a 4X4 when you have a little Toyota HiAce with a faulty A/C system?

We finally arrived to the top of the hill. Wow! The school had a stunning view of the both the ocean and nearby forest covered rolling hills. The kids at this school were very lucky to be enrolled there. The school focused on encouraging, educating and empowering restaveks, orphans, and vulnerable children. Another organization was doing great things in Haiti. It was amazing. Continue reading

Hear Haiti: The Future of Haiti

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Michael Lumunsad is a Strategic Marketer at Advanced Bionics LLC. He enjoys talking about the most random topics with his AB coworkers, Brendan, Jiselle, and Jessica.

Day 3:

Written on the sign was “12 JANVYE 2010 – AYITI PAP BLIYE” which means, “12 January 2010 – Haiti Will Not Forget”.

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The Haiti Earthquake Memorial

As we passed the 2010 earthquake memorial, we were reminded of why our Hear the World team and many other humanitarian teams were in Haiti. We came to help the people who were victims of the tremendous tragedy. Three million people were affected and more than 250,000 people died. The new memorial was built on the mass grave of these people and it’s supposed to remind the world of how many innocent lives were lost in this wonderful country.

Our two vans made the hour drive to a coastal school near Port-au-Prince. We were greeted by energetic and laughing children who wanted hugs from each and every one of us. These kids and their families were the survivors of the earthquake and they will be the future of the country. Continue reading

Hear Haiti: a vibrant start

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Haley B. Kurzawa is a Hearing Instrument Specialist at Connect Hearing USA. She is originally from Chicago and moved to Austin, Texas last year.

Day 2.

Hearing the rooster crow was such an unusual sound for a Chicago girl. I woke up to the beautiful sunshine, feeling surprisingly rested after a long day of travel. I was very eager to start the day with my awesome team.

“Breakfast is at 8 AM. Be ready to leave for Cite Soleil after eating,” said Cathy Jones.

I prepared for a day of many detours and potentially unplanned activities. I got excited for the busy day ahead. We planned to visit a school in Cite Soleil, the skilled artisans of the Metal Works community, and the non-profit Apparent Project.

We were all excited to get to see the Port-au-Prince that’s not shown on mainstream news. We piled into two vans and headed on our way.

“The roads in Haiti have potholes just as big as Chicago,” I excitedly exclaimed. I realized driving in Haiti wasn’t like driving in the USA. There are huge pot holes, lack of asphalt, no visible lanes, no traffic lights, and lots of pedestrians. People either walk, ride motorcycles, or take “tap-tap” which are colorful trucks.  Think of vibrant Uber rides. Continue reading

Hear Haiti: Bienvenue en Haiti

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Michael Lumunsad, a Strategic Marketer who works at Advanced Bionics, will be reporting from Haiti. 

On this late Saturday evening driving to LAX, I wonder to myself, “Am I ready for this trip?”

I visualize the things that I am supposed to pack for the Hear the World volunteering mission trip to Haiti. I look at my crumpled checklist while having this bad feeling that I’ve forgotten something. I hate being unprepared. Did I miss something from the emails sent to me by Hear Haiti leader, Cathy Jones? I hope not.

My mind wanders as the freeway lights pass overhead. I’ve read so many news articles about what’s gone wrong in the country. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Thousands dead and millions displaced. Political instability. Zika virus. Haiti in crisis.

What can a group of American and Canadian volunteers do to help the people of Haiti? It seems too gigantic of a task. Continue reading

Hear The World heads back to Haiti

In this Open Ears segment we’ll be following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Michael Lumunsad, a Strategic Marketer who works at Advanced Bionics, will be reporting from Haiti. 

I, probably like many of you, still remember when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti more than six years ago. The January 12, 2010 catastrophe killed more than two hundred thousand people and displaced millions more.  In those six years, a lot of foreign aid and relief efforts have been poured into the island to help rebuild the devastated Caribbean country, including the Hear the World Foundation, which started HEAR HAITI in 2013.

On Sunday, I’ll be joining 11 other Sonova Group employees on the fourth Hear the World volunteering trip to Leveque, Haiti. Our team will be providing patient care, hearing aid fitting, and caregiver education to many deaf children and adults living in Leveque, especially those children orphaned by the 2010 tragedy.

I will lead the documentation efforts during the trip, including sharing our experiences on social media. Others will have jobs covering administration and organization tasks, diagnostics, fitting, auditory verbal therapy, and communications.

Everyone on the team is excited to volunteer in Haiti and give back to the community in need.

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Meet some of the 2016 Hear Haiti volunteers: Continue reading