Turks and Caicos is a place most of us have heard of–a beautiful, tropical getaway location with idyllic beaches and all-inclusive resorts. It’s a paradise vacation of your dreams. But behind the paradise lies a territory of people who don’t have access to hearing healthcare.
“Behind every beautiful island, there’s a group of people trying to survive,” Dr. Patricia Reiff tells us.
It’s not something you think about, is it? In our minds, these tropical islands are a dream. But reality isn’t quite as kind. There isn’t an audiologist on any of the islands to help treat hearing loss.
Dr. Reiff, an audiologist at Associates in Hearing, joined a team of other audiologists and volunteers to provide the gift of hearing to those in need. For 10 days, they removed wax build up, performed hearing evaluations, fit people with hearing aids, and even removed a few seashells from a few ears.
But why Turks and Caicos? Why is it so important to go on these humanitarian trips to help those in need?
1. It Brings People Together
The trip to Turks and Caicos is one of many trips each year through Entheos, a hearing cooperative made up of audiologists who want to give back to their community and world. Each trip is made up of hearing healthcare professionals and volunteers from all over the country.
Once the group arrives to the location they’re serving, they can see hundreds of people in a day who need treatment. When these people receive the care they need, like a set of hearing aids, they can reconnect to the place they live and the people they love.
On the Grand Turk island, a gentleman who received a set of hearing aids saw the immediate positive effect of restored hearing. His job is to take care of all the animals on the island, work seven days a week, and receive multiple phone calls a day about animals that need his attention. Now fit with the proper hearing aids he needs, he can keep doing his job well and even dream bigger.
“I told him, ‘You should become a vet!” He told me, ‘Maybe now I will!’” Dr. Reiff says.
Another woman, named Grace, received new hearing devices as well. After she was fit and the hearing aids were turned on, Dr. Reiff and another volunteer played the song “Amazing Grace” for her. To their surprise, she sang along and knew every word!
Entheos not only connects the professionals at home; the people they serve are connected to each other through the gift of hearing.
2. Empower a Community and a Country
This trip helped the people living on these islands reconnect to themselves and each other. The effects of the gift of hearing will continue even though the group of audiologists have left the island.
“The more you can give people to make them more capable of giving to others, the better they’ll be able to do their work, relate to other people, and how they feel about themselves,” Dr. Reiff recalls. “It’s a snowball effect.”
Now that these people are reconnected to their people and their community, they don’t have to feel like a burden. They can have a positive outlook on their life and what’s to come.
It’s also empowering for those who are already making a difference. Pediatricians and nurses from the islands took time to observe how the audiologists removed ear wax and material from the ear, meaning that whenever these situations come up, they are now empowered to deal with them.
3. Give Meaning to the Work Done at Home
A humanitarian trip like this one is a way to serve the world. But it also serves the audiologists and volunteers who are giving their time, money, and resources to make it happen.
“When you interact with other healthcare professionals, you work better together,” Dr. Reiff explains. “You learn new ways to do things.” When a group comes together to work together, they are given the unique opportunity to learn from each other. Often when a group returns stateside, they find themselves inspired to do meaningful work here at home, too.
Dr. Reiff describes it as an honor: “It gives so much to us because we’re able to do something like this and not worry about the transaction cost. We’re just helping people because we can and because we’re capable and trained.”
So, are you wondering what you can do and how you can make a difference, too?
These trips are possible because of your generosity. Here are a few ways you can help us give the gift of hearing:
- Donate your old hearing aids.
- Send a monetary donation to go directly to a trip, our non-profit, or Entheos.
- Spread the word about why giving the gift of hearing is important.
We want to do meaningful work here in Landsdale and all over the world, and we want you to join us. Visit Giving Back Page to learn more!