Media - Sonova News Room
Commitment in India
When Crystal Variava first set foot in Rangammal School in the southern Indian city of Tiruvanamalai, she was astonished: 200 children were sitting in the bright classrooms of the spacious building and lessons were in full swing; but there was hardly a sound to be heard.
On Variava’s second business visit, just a few months later, the Sonova audiologist heard cheery children’s voices from the classrooms; the new digital hearing aids provided by the Hear the World Foundation had made a radical difference and the children were now using their voices. “Thinking back, I still find it moving,” recalls Variava – the Sonova employee from company headquarters in Mumbai, who is attached to the project as a volunteer, has long since taken the children straight to her heart.
While India’s economy is growing rapidly, this progress is rarely felt out in the country, where infrastructure and medical provision are in short supply. This state of affairs prompted Silvia Wright, a British citizen, to sell all her worldly possessions 35 years ago and found the Rangammal Memorial Rehabilitation Society. The Hear the World Foundation has been supporting this charitable project with digital hearing aids and funding for speech therapy and teacher training since 2014. To ensure that everything runs smoothly over the long term, Sonova India staff visit the school four times a year to check the hearing aids, which suffer in the damp climate, and to show the teachers how to carry out small repair jobs themselves – as well as how best to support the children’s language development.
Sonova audiologist Crystal Variava was particularly taken with six-year-old Gurumoorthy, known as Guru: “He only got hearing aids when he was four years old, but he already speaks very well and wants to become a teacher!” His favorite sound is crows calling outside his window. Variava wants to stay involved with the project, and regular visits to Tiruvanamalai are planned: “The school is a magical place where children who barely had any prospects in their lives are offered new opportunities.”