Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe being interviewed by Chelsea Clinton during a previous visit by Starkey's Hearing Foundation


Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe being interviewed by Chelsea Clinton during a previous visit by Starkey's Hearing Foundation to put hearing aids in the children's ears at Sister Rosemary's St. Monica's School and in the community of Gulu, Uganda.

Starkey's Hearing Foundation will be in Gulu, Uganda again this March, 2014 to aid the children with their hearing needs.

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Chelsea Reporting Children of Uganda Receiving the Gift of Hearing…
OCTOBER 15, 2012
tags: Chelsea Clinton, Clinton Global Initiative, Starkey Hearing Foundation, Uganda
Providing hope and hearing aids: Sister Rosemary’s mission to help the children of Uganda
By Chelsea Clinton, NBC News Special Correspondent

KAMPALA, Uganda – For more than 30 years, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have worked to help victims of the long Sudanese Civil War and Ugandans seeking refuge from the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Kony’s LRA has conscripted tens of thousands of boys and girls as soldiers and sex slaves and murdered tens of thousands of people.  Sister Rosemary is arguably the person who has done the most to help Kony’s victims recover and rebuild their lives.

Rosemary, NBC News Special Correspondent Chelsea Clinton, Starkey Hearing Technologies founder Bill Austin (second from left), Tani Austin (front left) and Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald (right) in Kampala, Uganda

In 2002, Sister Rosemary founded the St. Monica’s School and Tailoring Centre in Gulu, Uganda, her hometown, to teach literacy and vocational skills, such as tailoring.  Since opening, St. Monica’s has trained more than 2,000 girls who have escaped from the LRA and Kony. She said a major goal of the school is to give the girls and young women back the “dignity” and “self-respect” that Kony and the LRA took away.

Now Sister Rosemary has turned her attention to another goal: helping people in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan hear with the help of Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Hearing loss challenges more than 60 million children around the world, according to the Starkey Foundation, most of whom do not have access to the hearing devices and care that can help them lead healthy, productive lives. The Starkey Hearing Foundation fits and gives more than 100,000 hearing aids annually.

Austin explained how his company gave root to his foundation, “I did the business side so we could provide hearing aids to the people who could afford it — so that we would have the leverage and the ability to give hearing to the people who couldn’t.”

The foundation’s work goes beyond handing out hearing aid devices to treating ear diseases. “I couldn’t stand to send these kids away with sick ears. So, we started giving medicine to all these kids, showing them how to use it, talking to their families and their school about it,” Austin explained. He added that they’ve also started sending more speech therapists out into the field all over the world.

Power of a smile

It was remarkable to watch Starkey give the gift of hearing for the first time to young children, as well as men and women of all ages. It was equally remarkable watching Sister Rosemary talk to everyone she brought with her with such calm reassurance, in at least six different languages during that one day in Kampala, and to listen to her talk about her work with such joy and conviction.

A smile “is a great weapon,” she said as she laughed. She said that she can, “never imagine being done” with her work because there will always be more to help. She added that Kony and others are still “trying to keep people – especially – girls, down and afraid.”

For Austin’s part, he explained the rewards of their work.

“It’s like giving someone a birthright when you give them hearing. It’s like connecting them to life itself when you see the smile come across their face when they hear sound,” said Austin. “To hear their mother’s voice, to hear someone say I love you, just to hear words. A lot of the children have no vocabulary because they haven’t heard, they have to develop speech. This is what helps them be all they can be.”

The smiles I saw in Kampala were a clear testament to Austin’s mission and to Sister Rosemary’s determination. And, as Sister Rosemary said, a smile is a good weapon against the LRA and others who want a different, bleaker future for Uganda.

Chelsea Clinton is an NBC News Special Correspondent. She recently traveled with her father, former President Bill Clinton, to Uganda as part of their work with the Starkey Hearing Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. As a member of CGI, the Starkey Hearing Foundation has pledged to give 1 million hearing aids to people and children in need in the developing world by 2020.


Sister Rosemary: ‘Don’t give up’

Video on Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe discusses the challenges people still face in her formerly war-torn country of Uganda with NBC News Special Correspondent Chelsea Clinton.

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