Meet Lebo Pretty Ndladla from Shongwe Mission in South Africa. Little Lebo is 6 years old and was born with bilateral Microtia and Atresia including Treacher Collins Syndrome. While Lebo is surrounded by much love from her family in the small village they live in, Lebo still struggles to hear her family and friends communicating and to hear all of the sounds that surround her everyday.
Through a radio broadcast, Lebo’s mother, Xolisile Mgwenya, heard about a nonprofit organization in South Africa, called the Give An Ear Foundation that helps children born with Microtia and Atresia. Pretty’s family made contact with Viola Nwadike, the Founder of the Give An Ear Foundation, and asked for help for Lebo. Viola was familiar with the Ear Community Organization in the United States and knew how Ear Community also helps children born with Microtia and Atresia from all over the world obtain hearing devices. And…. so Viola applied on behalf of Lebo in hopes of helping her hear better. Through the help and commitment of both the Give An Ear Foundation and the Ear Community Organization, both nonprofits were able to find help for Lebo, together. The Ear Community Organization and Give an Ear Foundation contacted Tanya Hanekom of the South African Association for Audiologists (SAAA) who made the necessary arrangements for free hearing tests and programming of the donated hearing devices.
On Wednesday, October 6th of 2015, little Lebo and her mother, Xolisile, traveled with Viola Nwadike to the Lowveld Hearing Centre in White River and Nelspruit to receive Lebo’s new Oticon Medical hearing devices that were donated through the Ear Community Organization. Ear Community wishes to thank Nizha Ford and Cathy Flores (Audiologists) for donating their time and services to help fit and program Lebo’s newly donated Oticon Medical Ponto Plus hearing devices and streaming device. Kaylini Naidoo of Oticon Medical traveled from Johannesburg as well to be a part of this amazing day for Lebo bringing with her the new Ponto Plus hearing devices, a stuffed monkey that also wears an Oticon Medical Ponto Plus, and some fun treats.
When Lebo arrived at Lowveld Hearing Centre in Nelspruit, she was understandably nervous and overwhelmed at all the eager faces excited to help her. Following the hearing tests Lebo’s new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus hearing devices were clipped onto a soft band and put on her head. As the devices were turned on Pretty’s face lit up and the sheer jubilation at hearing her mother say her name brought the room to tears. Her reaction was priceless and her mother’s emotional response at hearing her child say her own name was indescribable. In a lovely story that was released by the Lowveld Hearing Center it was said that “There is no greater gift than the gift of giving. A little girl from Shongwe’s life was changed thanks to the determination and co-ordinated efforts of Give an Ear Foundation, The Ear Community Organization, Oticon Medical, the SAAA, and the audiologists at Lowveld Hearing Centre.” Lebo’s family last updated everyone letting us know that Lebo is enjoying wearing her new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus hearing devices so much that she does not want to take her sound processors off. Lebo will soon need to start with speech therapy for aural rehabilitation to help her learn to communicate effectively and to make the most of her new found hearing abilities.
A very special thank you to Alan Raffauf, Vice President of Marketing for Oticon Medical US, for choosing to donate the new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus hearing devices w/streamer to Ear Community so that they could be donated to little Lebo to help her hear better from here on out. Thank you for everyone’s support and for helping Ear Community continue with its mission of helping individuals with Microtia and Atresia. Oticon Medical believes in helping individuals with hearing loss so that they can live a better quality of life. Oticon Medical is a well respected international hearing device manufacturer that is a part of the “William Demant Group [which has] 100-plus years of experience in audiology and sound processing and established manufacturing and logistics infrastructure.”
Thank you again to everyone who was involved in helping change little Lebo’s life this week! The Ear Community Organization is also excited for Lebo and her family to attend Ear Community’s Microtia and Atresia family picnic that will take place this Sunday in Johannesburg. The Ear Community Microtia and Atresia picnic will be the very first of its kind to bring families and medical professionals together in South Africa in support of loved ones with Microtia and Atresia. “This week has been an amazing week,” says Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community. “Not only did the Ear Community Organization have the opportunity to help Lebo hear better thanks to the friendships and partnerships our organization has in South Africa, but I am also very excited for Lebo’s family to attend our Ear Community Microtia and Atresia picnic this Sunday so that Lebo can meet many other children who are just like her. I look forward to hearing all about our Ear Community picnic this weekend!”
– Melissa Tumblin
Here’s to not missing a beat Lebo….everyone is so happy for you to be hearing so much better now! You deserve to hear sweet girl. Here is also a video link of Lebo’s mother crying tears of joy when Lebo repeated her name back to her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAf0dQx_atU&feature=youtu.be
Founder and Executive Director
and Ear Community Board Members