CSLI

My biggest wish

Titelbild ENG

 

My biggest wish:

“… I want to hear again …!”

 

Martin WeitgasserReport by Major CSLI Martin Weitgasser, Lazarus Union delegate for the Philippines

 

A while ago I met a young woman on the Internet called Annie Berago who lives in the Philippines. When chatting I noticed a second young lady passing in the background. This was her sister Mary-Rose and during our chat I learned that she is deaf. The reason for her deafness was that, as a child, another girl had stabbed her in her ears with a stick! I offered to visit them when I was in the Philippines to which Annie happily agreed.

I did so, planning to stay two days during my trip in October 2014. It was an extremely enjoyable visit and the family – Annie, her husband and their two children, Mary-Rose and a third sister May-Ann – were all very kind and open-hearted. After the two days, on the way to the airport, we unfortunately got firmly stuck in traffic and I missed my plane! Fortunately, it was only a domestic flight… but I asked where the nearest shopping mall was so that we could get out of the traffic and re-gain our strength before we went back again, since the journey would now take more than two hours!

In the mall I discovered a business called the Hearing Aid Company and had Mary-Rose immediately ushered in so they could test her to see if anything could be done for the young woman. The family does not have much money though Mary-Rose helps a lot with the household and gives massages to local elderly ladies to provide a little extra income.

The Professional set earplugs in Mary-Rose’s ears and, lo and behold, …Mary-Rose could hear!!!! Tears ran down her sister’s cheeks and Mary-Rose was beside herself with joy.

From this point, my mind was made up to help this unfortunate young woman. Though it might only cost a few hundred Euros, it wasn’t likely that Mary-Rose could afford this amount given the circumstances of their lives. For me, though, it would be about a holiday bonus.

To my disappointment, I discovered that the prices for hearing aids of this type, because of Mary-Rose’s special needs, are relatively expensive. In this case, approximately 800 Euros per piece = 1600 Euros for both ears! I rather expected it to be around 500 to 800 Euros. But, so be it … my decision remained. “There has to be something that can be done!”

Back in Austria I went straight to the search for this equipment but I was in the same spot as before – prices were the same with us unless you get a grant from Health Insurance, which wouldn’t apply in this case. Used equipment was also nowhere to be found until, at a smaller family dinner, the conversation turned to the hearing aids. My aunt then said: “Why didn’t you say so, I have three spare hearing aids at home that we can send her!” I accepted this offer with hope and joy, picked up the devices and sent them to Mary-Rose.

Unfortunately, two of the hearing aids were not suitable. And with the one that worked she could only hear sounds faintly. To me that was, of course, too little. (If I want to have a TV, I’m not satisfied with a radio because it also plays sounds!)

So further research…

And then it occurred to me that my good friend Wolfgang Steinhardt also has a hearing aid, and I thought to myself, I’ll just ask him. When you’re dealing with things, you’ll often find you know other people or businesses who also deal with them, and to ask costs nothing.

At the next meeting of the CSLI in the Museum of Military History at the Arsenal, I told him the story and asked for any help or assistance he could give in this matter.

Helpful as he is, he of course immediately agreed and asked me to send him an email with the story of this young woman, her audiogram and the proposed hearing aid model (Phonak Naida Q-30). He would then speak with his Audiologist at his next appointment.

But the next morning he called me and told me his amended plan… He was so taken with my email that he attached it to an email he sent to the management of Neuroth, a leading hearing aids company founded in 1907 in Vienna, requesting their help and proposing to advertise the help they gave on the homepage of the CSLI with over 60,000 hits per month. Here again my best thanks to you, Wolfgang.

A week later, another call from Wolfgang… the Neuroth company had responded to our email and wanted to help.

Neuroth would provide two Phonak Naida Q-30 hearing aids (incl. Setup for all audio settings) free of charge!!!

I was really stunned and could not believe it! That such companies still exist is hard to believe. I send my respect and best wishes, greetings and thanks to this family-owned Austrian company.

After getting this wonderful news I decided not to tell Mary-Rose anything about it because I wanted to surprise her on my next visit. This visit had already been planned.

Two weeks before the flight I met with Wolfgang Steinhardt and together we collected the hearing aids.

The business of taking advertising photos was kindly rejected by the company’s management as they did not want to make the young lady public property. They were happy for us just to take the hearing aids with their good wishes (!)

To my surprise I found that the two devices were different to the devices we’d requested. In fact they were the Phonak Naida Q-90 type!!! I was pleasantly surprised and asked if this was right because the type Q30 had been promised. The technician murmured that he didn’t know what the management had written but, as we had both devices worth several 1000 Euros, we should take them no questions asked. We also got a “TV Link” device that works with the television. The device transmits directly to another device which combines with the hearing aid or even a mobile phone.

In addition Wolfgang helped me get a year’s supply of batteries.

In June 2015 I travelled to the Philippines. In my luggage were the two hearing aids, the TV Link and the batteries.

Annie picked me up at an agreed spot and we went to her home. When Mary-Rose saw me, her joy was of course huge. She hugged and pressed me… but they certainly did not know what I had with me…

…A little later, on the doorstep because the light is better than inside, I took the rich “gifts” from my bag and presented them to Mary-Rose.

She could not believe it, she clapped her hands and tears of joy and emotion ran down her cheeks, it was clear that she was thinking this was all a dream.

Speaking of a dream, I reminded her that in October last year I had asked her what was the greatest desire in her life, and that she had replied: “My greatest wish is to be able to hear again!”

She hugged me and was beside herself with joy. Here is the link to the video that was made in the presence of her sister and mother (Also another video where she is wearing the new hearing aids and one where her young sister is practising speaking with her – more or less successfully – see the end.)

1) Transfer of hearing aids

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1iLqIxeu9M

2) The hearing aids work well…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjETTYVE1YI&feature=youtu.be

3) The first lesson by the young teacher…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUtRxsa6bp0

I hope that you will enjoy each of these videos.

I can only say that you cannot put Mary-Rose’s joy into words.

She wears the two hearing aids with such joy and pride that it can’t be described linguistically.

I want to thank the Neuroth company again a thousand times for all their prompt and straightforward help. May their kindness be repaid a hundredfold. And of course my thanks Wolfgang Steinhardt and the CSLI for all their help.

For me it’s not done yet… now Mary-Rose has to go to school to learn to talk.

For this, you need a special software program called LAMP! http://www.aacandautism.com/lamp at a cost of 300 Euros, though this can, luckily, be divided over 5 students, so = 60 Euros each.

Actually, the program is only compatible with an Apple iPad which costs used: 160 Euros with school costs of about 120 Euros a month.

So the first month’s cost is approximately 340 Euros. After that there are, luckily, then only the school fees.

I am also playing with the idea of inviting Mary-Rose (and if possible, also her sister Annie) to Austria next year. They can then thank the Neuroth company directly for its help and learn more about the work it does.

Perhaps the Lazarus Union might provide a simpler form for the invitation than is possible as a private individual!

I hope my report is descriptive enough and hope that I can continue to help people in need.

Hope, for us a small thing, can make the world all the more beautiful if we here in “rich” Europe/Austria can learn to appreciate the good and easy life that we have here. We mustn’t simply accept it, throwing around phrases like “not me,” and “not my problem”.

Thank you from me and especially from Mary-Rose and her family for your active support and assistance.

 

With best regards,

Major CSLI Martin Weitgasser

Delegate of the Lazarus Union for the Philippines

 

Here some pictures:

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