In countries where large portions of the population live on less than $2 per day, purchasing costly hearing aids is well beyond the means of most individuals. To address this need, HOPE International is partnering with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to help distribute hearing aids to over 1,000 impoverished individuals in Uganda and Rwanda. As part of this initiative, HOPE staff members Erika Roberts and Quenton Marty—joined by Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, and over 20 other NFL stars representing Pros for Africa—have traveled to these countries to help distribute hearing aids. Below, Erika blogs about her first impressions from the trip.
I started off this trip thinking that I would not have anything HOPE related to write about until we were actually fitting our Rwanda clients with hearing aids. However, after 8 days of helping to share the gift of hearing, I can say with confidence that the work of the Starkey Hearing Foundation and HOPE International are more similar than I thought. There have been many times after helping restore an adult’s hearing that I have asked how this new ability will aid their businesses and, essentially, their ability to generate income. One man told me that he is a fisherman, and now he will be able to hear other boats coming as well as make better deals with his customers. Another sweet older lady who came to the hearing mission with her sign language interpreter from church wanted to give me a gift after I fitted her hearing aids but did not have it with her. I found out that she makes beautiful bags.
In Gulu, Uganda, at St. Monica’s Girls’ Tailoring Centre, run by Sister Rosemary, the CNN 2007 Hero of the Year, the girls learn to make bags and jewelry that they sell to help raise money for the school. Sister Rosemary is a huge proponent of microfinance and savings groups. She was excited as I talked with her about HOPE’s work and is now reading The Poor Will Be Glad [written by HOPE’s president, Peter Greer]. Yet it sounds like she is already in line with the mission of HOPE as she articulated that her main goal is restoring dignity through the love of God.
Quenton and I are looking forward to meeting many of our clients tomorrow in Kigali and witnessing how God will use this gift of hearing to even more deeply restore their dignity and take their businesses to the next level.