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Published: Saturday, 6/6/2009

Hearing aids sent to children in Gaza by area audiologist

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

As an audiologist of Palestinian descent, Randa Mansour-Shousher jumped at the chance to help when she learned children in Gaza needed hearing aids.

"I just went at it," said Ms. Mansour-Shousher of Northwest Ohio Hearing Clinic in Perrysburg and Toledo. "You feel like you can just do something."

She added: "How often do you find your specialty to be something that's needed?"

Ms. Mansour-Shousher launched a fund-raising campaign for American Near East Refugee Aid and, last month, a shipment of 100 digital hearing aids worth about $75,000 made it across the tightly controlled border into Gaza.

Batteries, molding materials, and audiology equipment valued at more than $150,000 also were sent to Gaza as part of Ms. Mansour-Shousher's campaign, which garnered support from fellow audiologists, two U.S. hearing-aid manufacturers, and others.

The donated hearing aids and batteries will be used by Gaza preschoolers, and hearing tests will become part of ANERA's Milk for Preschoolers Program. The relief agency's program distributes fortified milk to more than 25,000 children.

Previous tests showed that nearly 300 children younger than 5 years old had ear problems or hearing loss, mostly from untreated ear infections. And 100 children needed hearing aids, according to ANERA.

Bombings and other conflict in Gaza likely has caused hearing problems among the children as well, Ms. Mansour-Shousher said.

Ms. Mansour-Shousher and her family became involved with ANERA after learning about the relief agency two years ago. ANERA works in other Middle Eastern countries, and Ms. Mansour-Shousher plans to supply hearing aids and needed items elsewhere, she said.

"I always wondered, 'What can I do to help overseas?'•" Ms. Mansour-Shousher said. "I didn't want to just send money overseas, because you never know what's going to happen."

Ms. Mansour-Shousher said she had hoped to visit Gaza in April to work with ANERA but she was not allowed in. This month, she is visiting relatives in the West Bank and plans to visit some ANERA programs in Ramallah, as well as hopefully take some supplies.

All of the hearing aids and other items were delivered to the Atfaluna Society for the Deaf, a long-time Gaza partner organization, according to ANERA. Adults will benefit from some of the donated items, too, it said.

Helping Palistinians was her first priority, Ms. Mansour-Shousher said.

"I just feel like everybody else has help," she said. "It's hard to get anything over [to Gaza]."



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