Ear we go! Volunteers arrive in Cameroon to help children with hearing problems

In Cameroon a child who is born deaf is hidden by his family for fear of being stigmatized. Fundacja Redemptoris Missio

A team of volunteers has arrived in Cameroon to help children there with hearing problems.

The Redemptoris Missio foundation from Poznan, western Poland, has started a new mission as part of a three-week 'Audiologist in Africa' project.

The volunteers from the Redemptious Missio Foundation will provide hearing aids and education to help those children with hearing problems. Fundacja Redemptoris Missio

CEO of Redemptoris Missio Justyna Janiec-Palczewska said that three Polish specialists, Agnieszka Łukanowska, Dr Olgierd Stieler and Michał Tomczak, want to "introduce the youngest deaf children to the world of sound."

She said: "Poland is a country on which the rest of the world is modeled when it comes to screening hearing in newborns, thanks to which almost every child up to the age of six months, with a diagnosed hearing defect, has a hearing prosthesis properly adjusted."

The specialists want to "introduce the youngest deaf children to the world of sound." Fundacja Redemptoris Missio

She added that a Cameroonian child cannot count on any help as the family, after discovering a hearing impairment, is only able to ask a shaman for advice.

The shaman only recognises who "put a spell on the family," but this does not solve the problem.

CEO of Redemptoris Missio Justyna Janiec-Palczewska said: "Poland is a country on which the rest of the world is modeled when it comes to screening hearing in newborns, thanks to which almost every child up to the age of six months, with a diagnosed hearing defect, has a hearing prosthesis properly adjusted." Justyna Janiec-Palczewska

She said: "From this time, the family keeps the child from the world, so it will not bring shame on the family.

“The Polish missionaries reach such children and ask their parents to get them to the school run by a Pole, Ewa Gawin, in Bertoua."

Most of the children diagnosed with a hearing problem have the opportunity to regain their sense thanks to hearing aids.Fundacja Redemptoris Missio

Thanks to Gawin's school, the children receive education and an occupation, learn about plant breeding, and also get a chance to have a happy childhood.

Janiec-Palczewska added that most of the children diagnosed with a hearing problem have the opportunity to regain their sense thanks to hearing aids. Apart from the Redemptoris Missio, no one has ever provided such help before.

At the moment the only help the children get is from a shaman who identifies who "put a spell on the family.”  Fundacja Redemptoris Missio

"Hearing aids in Cameroon are extremely expensive and only the richest can afford them. Thanks to our sponsors, the volunteers take with them hearing test equipment worth PLN 150,000 (EUR 35,300) and hearing aids worth PLN 300,000 (EUR 70,584) donated by companies producing them," Janiec-Palczewska said.

The project is organised by the Poznan University of Medical Sciences and the Tarnow diocese.