When David Woodruff, MA, CCC-A, first visited southern Vietnam in 1994, he was not only overwhelmed by its large population of deaf children but also determined to provide services and equipment for them.
Woodruff, the director of the Hearing and Balance Center in San Diego, is one of hundreds of volunteers for the non-profit organization Americans Helping Asian Children (AHAC). AHAC has provided an unique service to the children of Vietnam through its Hearing Aid program by detecting hearing loss and distributing hearing aids to those who might benefit the most.
A small team of AHAC volunteers led by Woodruff traveled in January of this year to the area around Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in southern Vietnam. The AHAC team, consisting of two audiologists, an ENT physician, and two interpreters, had expected to evaluate and create ear mold impressions for approximately 250 children.
"These children are chosen on the basis of financial need and severity of handicap by the deaf centers run by religious organizations or the local communities," said Woodruff.
He ended up seeing nearly 500 children.
Woodruff and the AHAC team have another trip to Vietnam scheduled for March of this year. They will return to Ho Chi Minh City where they will distribute ear molds and hearing aids.
"All hearing aids are either donated by manufacturers or purchased by AHAC from funds of concerned financial donors. The material for the ear molds is also purchased by AHAC," Woodruff explained.
AHAC also supplies a year's worth of batteries per hearing aid dispensed. These hearing aid batteries are usually retained and distributed by the school or facility a deaf child attends to ensure they are not lost or sold for profit in the 'black market.' Woodruff has been involved in AHAC for eight years and...