President and Chelsea Clinton Visit Site to See Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Global Fight against Hearing Loss

by LP Green, II

President Bill Clinton and Steven Sawalich, senior executive director of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, fit a patient with hearing aids at a mission in Rwanda in August 2013.

The former president helps provide the gift of hearing in Zambia and Rwanda.

Former President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton joined Starkey Hearing Foundation’s team of hearing professionals to give customized hearing devices to more than 375 people in Livingstone, Zambia and Kigali, Rwanda. They made the stops to see the progress the Foundation is making on its Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action of providing one million hearing aids to people in need this decade. Currently, Starkey Hearing Foundation is nearly 40 percent ahead of schedule on its commitment, and in the past year alone, the Foundation has fitted more than 165,000 hearing aids worldwide.

“Starkey Hearing Foundation is empowering people around the world to achieve a better life through the gift of hearing,” said President Clinton. “Chelsea and I were honored, as we always are, to help the great Starkey staff fit people, many of whom had never heard before, for hearing aids.”

President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton personally fitted patients with new hearing aids in both Zambia and Rwanda. President Clinton has spoken at Starkey’s annual So the World May Hear Awards Gala for the last four years, including most recently on July 28, in St. Paul, Minn. This was his third time volunteering on a mission. He joined the Foundation in Colombia and Uganda in 2012.

Hearing loss is a global epidemic, with disabling hearing loss impacting more than 360 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Yet with the help of a hearing device, hearing loss can often be corrected in many cases, giving an individual the opportunity to better connect with family, the community and the world around them.

“Hearing is the basis for communication and human connection. It opens doors and gives individuals the power to seize opportunities and reach their full potential in life,” said Bill Austin, founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation. “The support we received from President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative has enabled us to build vital partnerships and touch more lives than we ever thought possible.”

Mission partners Global Health Corps and Bridge2Rwanda also worked with Starkey Hearing Foundation in Rwanda. Actors Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning joined the team in Zambia.

In between missions in Zambia and Rwanda, Starkey Hearing Foundation, along with Tanzanian-born Hasheem Thabeet, of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, made an additional stop in Tanzania to give the gift of hearing to more than 200 people in need.

Starkey Hearing Foundation uses hearing as a vehicle to improve the lives of individuals around the world. Its work in Zambia, Rwanda and Tanzania is part of the dozens of domestic and international missions conducted each year. The foundation fits more than 100,000 hearing aids to people in need annually and has pledged to fit one million hearing aids this decade.

More information about the foundation’s work can be found on Starkey Hearing Foundation’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

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