Back in 2002, my wife and I started the
hearing program through Portland Rotary in the Dominican Republic.
Portland Rotarians went out and collected used hearing aids throughout the
community. We refurbished them and fit them on people in the Dominican Republic.
After 22 trips and 2,377 hearing fittings, we now are fitting digital technology accompanied by solar chargers and batteries to make the program sustainable. It’s a
wonderful experience. You change lives. Every year we see these kids who lost
their hearing as a young child and they couldn’t go school. They stayed at home. They did dishes and housework and they were known as incompletes. We came in and test their hearing fit, them with appropriate hearing technology, bingo, they’re back in school they have a life again. This year we’re in La Romana. We’re
in a town called Hato Mayor in Santo Domingo; and then we’re gonna be in
Puerto Plata which is the north part of the island. It’s really interesting to come in and hold these clinics because you see just the vast needs. So today we came to Santo Domingo, the capital, there were 40 people waiting for us.
We’re providing clean water in the bateyes here in the Dominican Republic. This system here is called a Sawyer system. Pretty simple. You can fill this 5 gallon bucket with water and it filters through this little filter here. It’ll do 5 gallons in about 20 minute. This is purely a humanitarian trip for me. So, no background in prosthetics, but we kind of
started off with this simple, dysfunctional, one-size-fits-all; but then
we quickly realized that we needed to provide a different kind of device. A
more customized device. So we’ve expanded from that into 3D printing devices. And
so even though we’re not, we’re not prosthetics professionals; we’ve been
working with some professionals back in the states to help kind of guide us in this realm.
When I was six years old, I had an encounter with a train. I went to take a
sugar cane in the railroad track. I fell onto the railroad track. Unable to move, I
was ran over and I lost my entire right leg. I spent many years trying to find
help in my country. Somebody that could help me to get a prosthetic; but it was
impossible. When I go to the states every year and I conduct presentations in Rotary Club, companies, churches; and I share this story central to
prostheses to see if we can find volunteers and people that can
partner with us and help us to keep moving forward and in helping amputees and people with
a special need. It has been fun and amazing to be able to help the people
that we have helped; and the people that we will, we will help.
It’s… it’s a wonderful experience. And I want to thank Portland Rotary, and Audigy, and ReSound for making this possible. This last trip we were able to fit 148
hearing aids with three professionals in four days.