My Experience by: DeAnne Pacheco, TeleHear Clinical Director
I had the honor of serving in a Starkey Hearing Foundation mission with the most amazingly dedicated, hard-working people. We completed four mission days in three cities: Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Cusco, Peru and Trujillo, Peru, where we fit nearly 2000 children and adults with hearing aids. I was first struck by the grand scale of the operation but more amazed of how well-executed every step was performed. I was part of Phase 2 where we, as volunteers, go into the mission location with Tani Austin, Starkey’s Chief Philanthropy Officer, and her team to fit our patients with their hearing aids and custom molds. Patients are also provided with batteries, counseled on how to properly use and care for their devices and what to expect in Phase 3.
This has been so much more than a service opportunity — it was a gift to me that I will treasure forever and one that has impacted my life in the most meaningful way. My heart has never been so full of love and joy. I left Bolivia and Peru with a sense of true accomplishment, satisfaction and happiness. I’m addicted and can’t wait to serve again!
We started with a huddle every morning before our long days led by our tireless leader, Tani. I feel privileged to work beside her and learn from such a strong and dedicated woman. I honor what she kept reminding us: we will look our patient in the eyes and show them the respect, care and love they deserve as human beings. She emphasized that this global mission is NOT about “us” and that we are the least important people there. Our patients are the most important people and the reason why we are there. Words were never so true. We are here to give and to serve, the highest calling.
I’ll never forget the smiles on the children’s faces when they heard their own voice, the tears of a mother when her own child heard her voice and the young lady who now has a better future ahead of her because she can hear. That young lady can now participate in and contribute to her community. It’s a brilliant circle of love. The more we give, the more is given in return. God bless the elderly women and men who came to see us dressed in their Sunday best. They came sporting their shined shoes, distinctive hats and the brightest smiles. They were proud to be there and showed us the most gratitude and grace I’ve received. They thanked us over and over as though we were giving them the greatest gift, but little did they know that they gave me back something far greater. My heart was never bursting with so much love, honor and gratitude for being able to be used as a vehicle to spread hope, love and the gift of hearing.
Visit Starkey Hearing Foundation for more information on the hearing aid missions. Follow #hearingaidmissions on social media for more photos and videos.