Under the direction of Dr. Rafi Walden, the deputy director of the Sheba Medical Center and a member of Physicians for Human Rights, a team consisting of 20 doctors, medical students, and a speech therapist set out on a three-day humanitarian mission in the West Bank city of Tulkarm.
They conducted hearing tests and hearing aid fittings for those who need them. The hearing aids, which were donated by the US-based Starkey Hearing Foundation and cost $1 million, were distributed two months later.
"One of the tasks, and the vision of Sheba Hospital, is to help our neighbors," said Zeev Rotstein, CEO and director of the medical center. "We enlisted the Starkey Foundation to help 1,000 Palestinians – children, women and the elderly – who suffer from hearing impairment and are disconnected from the surroundings, to hear again," he said.
According to Salah Haj Yahia, the director of the Physicians for Human Rights' mobile clinic, the hearing aids cost $900 per person - $450 per device. Individuals who needed the devices but were unable to afford them turned to the health system and to aid organizations for help.
"We had parents telling us their kids don't go to school because they cannot hear, and that they didn't have the money to buy a hearing aid," Haj Yahia said.
Khalil Abu Attar, a Tulkarm resident, was one of these parents. His son received his very first hearing aid as part of the project. "I'm so glad that it became possible because (the devices) are very expensive, and here suddenly I got them for free," Abu Attar said. "I'm so happy I could do this for my son."
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