A local optometrist who has given the gift of sight to thousands of African children through his life-changing charity is now helping deaf Kenyan children hear for the first time.
Sean Walls and Sight Aid International have been carrying out eye screening camps in Kenya where they have conducted around 42,000 eye tests since 2009.
With the Covid pandemic putting the charity’s vital work on hold, Sean took the opportunity to go back to university and retrain as an audiologist.
And his quest to add hearing screening to his international projects is now being realized with ten partially deaf children receiving hearing aids thanks to Sight Aid’s remarkable work with Kenya Society for the Deaf. The Lanarkshire Live app is available to download now.
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Sean owns the Optical Factory in East Kilbride and Hamilton and has opened eye testing clinics in Kenya and Malawi.
He said: “In 2018 I started uni to become an audiologist so that I could add hearing screening projects to our work. “Unfortunately, Covid put all our work on hold but we are now able to get back up and running.
“I graduated in 2020 and carried out our first hearing screening project last month in Machakos, Kenya. We tested 21 children, 11 were profoundly deaf but 10 only had a hearing loss that can be corrected with hearing aids so I’m flying out to Kenya this month to fit them.
“These children have been born with hearing loss and these aids will give them hearing for the first time. This will be a very emotional experience for me but one that I am extremely proud of.
“The kids live in the school and are faced with challenges daily. I am hoping that allowing some of them to hear may allow them to also develop their speech, allowing them a better quality of life.”
With the help of an East Kilbride engineering firm, Sean has also designed a device that will solar recharge hearing aid batteries so the children will be able to recharge their own batteries.