Starkey Hearing Foundation initiative in Sri Lanka


The Starkey Hearing Foundation has launched a hearing aid project for the war-affected areas of north-east Sri Lanka, aimed at providing thousands of hearing aids. A large-scale humanitarian program has been conducted in Sri Lanka to provide thousands of people who have suffered hearing loss with hearing aids. The initiative is the first to be carried out by Starkey Hearing Technologies in the country and was coordinated by Synergen Health, a local partner and sponsor.

The program took three years to plan and fund and was the result of efforts by Mel and Duminda Gunawardena, the two brothers who head Synergen. In 2011, they attended the Starkey Hearing Foundation Gala which aims to raise funds from corporate sponsors, and includes celebrities and former world leaders like President Bill Clinton. The event also showcases the past and future programs of the Foundation. The brothers were very surprised to see that Sri Lanka was not among the countries that had previously been chosen.

Given the target of reaching thousands of patients per mission, the sponsors were able to secure support from the Sri Lankan army to assist in the logistics of the campaign. 45 members of the Starkey team from around the world joined the Synergen Health Sri Lanka team and were able to fit more than 3,000 hearing aids for people who were congenitally deaf, or who had lost their hearing due to old age, illness, or deafening explosions during the war. The mission targeted civilians in the north and east regions of the country including former rebels and army combatants in an effort to support reconciliation.

Source: The Sunday Times - Colombo.