Fixing Ears in Cambodia
During my recent travels in SE Asia, I was fortunate to spend an evening with Director Glyn Vaughan of All Ears Cambodia in Phnom Penh. What an amazing place and individual - both left a lasting impact on me and I continue to dwell over the experience. Cambodia is an extremely poor country still recovering from years of war and strife from the Khmer Rouge regime. It does not allocate any government resources to its disabled people. As a result, thousands of hearing impaired children and adults are left without the education, hearing aids, or services they need to thrive and many end up destitute and/or reliant their entire lives on family for support.
An All Ears marketing piece indicates that "an estimated 2 million Cambodians suffer from disabling deafness...and over half of these cases could have been prevented." In fact, chronic ear infections are so common that, in many villages, it is considered normal. And, of the ones in need of hearing aids, less than 1% have them. Dr. Vaughan, a British audiologist, has made it his life's mission to reverse some of these trends. He left his UK practice to move to Phomh Penh in 2003 to establish and run All Ears Cambodia full-time. He is the only degreed audiologist in the entire country, and his clinic is the only one of its kind in Cambodia. He self-trained two women and an assistant on the practice of audiology and now the four of them work relentlessly to provide support treatment, hearing aids, and rehabilitation to those in need in Phnom Penh and in many rural villages stretching across four provinces. The clinic also partners with 30 other NGOs that work with AIDS and landmine victims (hearing loss is a common side effect of AIDS). The organization supports the sole government audiology clinic at the state hospital through contributions of personnel and through training programs. They do a lot of education and awareness around hearing loss - how to protect your ears, what to do when you have an ear infection (don't pour kerosene in your ear, for starters…). Glyn and his team also wrote the country's first audiology manual in the Khmer language. The amount of work and the tremendous impact that this small group of committed people is making is incredible to comprehend.
Dr. Vaughan's passion is inspiring and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him share his experiences. If you are looking for a worthy cause to support, this would be a great one. For more information, click here.