About the project
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 16.6 million people have left Ukraine and crossed the border into neighboring countries since the beginning of the Russian invasion until the end of 2022. 6.5 million people are fleeing within Ukraine. Sonova Audiological Care Poland (Geers) and the Hear the World Foundation have responded to this crisis. In Geers stores, refugee children with hearing loss are provided with hearing aids and receive free care.
The Hearing Centre in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine was established in 2014 to provide professional diagnostics and effective treatment for hearing loss. The Hear the World Foundation has supported this project since 2018, both financially and with hearing aids and the training of staff by volunteer hearing experts.
The Russian invasion in February 2022 changed everything. Since then, more difficult supply options have meant that the foundation could only support the project to a limited extent. To ensure the care of refugee children with hearing loss, the foundation therefore launched a joint project with Geers Poland in the early summer of 2022. The biggest challenge has been to raise awareness of this service.
Emergency aid for children from Ukraine
Sonova Audiological Care Poland and the Hear the World Foundation reacted quickly to the crisis in Ukraine. Together with project partner Geers, they are providing free follow-up care for refugee children and adolescents with hearing loss in their specialist stores.
Katarzyna Trzcinska Audiologist, Geers Store Manager in Lublin, Poland
Why was such an aid package put together immediately?
It is the children who need help the most. Many have fled to Poland with their mothers or alone. They could only take the most necessary things with them. Very often, they left their hearing aids behind in a rush.
How do you help them?
The foundation provides children who are dependent on hearing aids with new devices, which are fitted at Geers stores. If they carry a device with them, we check the functions free of charge. In this way, we offer fast and uncomplicated help for children with hearing loss who have had to leave their home country.
How do you draw attention to the offer?
It’s a joint effort. Geers has raised awareness of the foundation funded support through schools and doctors’ networks. Supporters post the offer on social media. We also advertise the offer in our specialist stores, write to our acousticians and work with aid organizations to ensure that the children find their way to us.
What touched you the most?
Facing the hardships of war, being forcefully separated from one’s immediate family and having to face a reality of which one had no prior knowledge is unimaginable. The situation becomes even more serious when a young person is confronted with a foreign culture and language that he or she does not understand because of his or her background and hearing impairment. It is precisely in such moments that real help is needed.
What are you particularly grateful for?
It is thanks to the Hear the World Foundation – which provides free opportunities to return to the world of sound – that children and young people have a chance to develop and to learn. Like for my patient Arsen it is worthwhile for anyone in need to learn about the forms of help available. It is moving to have a real impact on a person’s fate.