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Hearing aids for Argentina

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Tango, hearing aids and a charitable action

What connection is there between argentine tango, hearing aids and a charitable action? At first glance, you would say there is none.

I had my first experience of argentine tango a few years ago in a café. I was immediately fascinated by the music and the movements of the dancers and straight away it was clear to me that I would have to learn to dance it – following lots of courses, doing lots of workshops and then practicing, practicing and practicing. Because, unlike the ballroom tango that is so widespread in Europe and in which the dancers learn sequences of steps by heart, argentine tango is fundamentally based on leading and following. Each movement can be guided and in this way a high level of improvisation can be reached. For a while now, I have been teaching tango.

And, with so much tango, it was inevitable that I would end up travelling to Argentina to dance it.

Frau Doktor Romano and Ralph Schirner at Fando

Used hearing aids as a means of help

In my profession as a hearing aid technician, my clients always ask me what can be done with their used hearing aids. There are organisations that collect used glasses, but what about hearing aides?

Through a friend I looked for contacts in Argentina and found the FANDA foundation (www.fundacionfanda.org.ar), which is dedicated to supplying hearing aids to children of low economic means with impaired hearing. In a country like Argentina, where one in four workers is unemployed, there is almost no social support to help these children.

Dr Romano, the director of FANDA, has a hearing institute and invests almost 70% of her time doing voluntary work for the charity. Five other hearing technicians collaborate with her, also as volunteers without payment.
Until now, FANDA relied only on hearing aids donated by the local community. However, because of the difficult economic situation in the country, recently not even middle class argentines have been able to regularly change their hearing aids. In Argentina, not everybody has health insurance, and even for those who do, their insurance often does not provide for a change of hearing aid.

Having decided to help FANDA, I informed the local press, which published articles about my planned action and asked readers to donate hearing aids that were not in use. The resonance of this action was huge. Everyday people arrived at my shop to donate old hearing aids. Enthused by this success, I informed colleagues elsewhere in the business. Straight away they joined the initiative and also published articles in their local newspapers.

In this way, I ended up travelling to Buenos Aires with more than 90 used hearing aids in my luggage. Dr Romano met me when I arrived and immediately we set dates for the first deliveries. Together we fitted hearing aids for the first five children. The majority of the recipients had a high level of hearing loss and used a hearing aid for the first time in their lives. The happiness of the children and their parents was immense. The other hearing aids remained with Dr Romano, who took charge of adapting and distributing them to the other beneficiaries.

Since then I have returned to Buenos Aires twice with a further 2.000 hearing aids to help many more hearing impaired children. With these it was possible to help many children with hearing difficulties. During my trip, I was able to strengthen my collaboration with the Fanda association and I was appointed as a representative of the charity in Europe.

But there are still many deprived children in Buenos Aires with hearing difficulties, therefore this action needs to continue. We are very grateful to receive every used hearing aid that helps us to make the heart of an argentine child beat more strongly.

Many of the children we could help
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