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April 2018 Whitsunday Times

“We believe in compassion in action,” were the words Whitsunday resident Lew Tuck said as he was describing the Himalayan Health and Hearing mentality. The non-government organisation has been operating for more than eight years now out of Whitsunday Hearing's office in Cannonvale where Lew's wife Sue Tuck conducts business. Lew is an engineer/audiometrist with over 30 years experience as a mechanical engineer and more recently trained as an audiometrist. Sue has been an audiologist for over 30 years, with extensive experience in Government, Hospital and private practice audiology.

And now HHH is putting a call out for people looking to be involved and make a real difference in people's lives. In a nutshell, the NGO collects donated hearing aids and their parts to send to their staff in the Himalayan region from Nepal to India to fit to people who have hearing loss or are partly deaf.

Sue and Lew Tuck

Sue and Lew Tuck outside their Cannonvale business Whitsunday Hearing where they run the NGO Himalayan Health and Hearing Inc.

Himalayan HealthHimalayan Health and Hearing staff member checking a patient to see if they can be fitted with a hearing aid.

The locally-based organisation has a grass-roots approach which means they employ and train local members of the community in order to one day have the region self-sufficiently helping itself.

Mr Tuck said hearing loss in remote areas where there are no TV or newspapers (for the small number who can read), the inability to communicate is a sentence to solitude.

"Education in primary ear care of both local clinic staff and the people will dramatically reduce the chance of prolonged ear infection, with resultant permanent hearing loss,” he said. "Provision of hearing devices for the young means they can go to school, they can make friends, they can grow up normally... Young hard of hearing are often put into a "deaf” home, as they are difficult to manage at home and in regular schools. 'Dumb' has the same connotation, here as there, and so young people growing up are unable to be an active part of the community and live a solitary life.”

Mr Tuck also said providing hearing devices to the elderly also means they continue to contribute to the family benefit of their experiences, and can hear their religious teachers, so they are better able to prepare for death and their next lives. "I think an example recently really highlights this is when we walked into a school where they had a classroom of all the deaf kids together - we were able to fit all bar two of them with hearing aids so they could hear,” he said. "The teacher could even speak fluent English when fitted her with one. It changes lives.”

HHH also partners with other organisations to combat issues like women's health where they invite the community to get ear checks and then once there talk about gynaecological problems as well.

The time has come for the organisation to build for the future and ensure the continuity of their work so they are asking community members to come in and find out more about the NGO and how they can be involved. "This is something I'm really passionate about - little tiny people in a little tiny town can make a little tiny difference,” Mr Tuck said. "All of the money and aids donated go directly to the work HHH does, we support our admin costs from our business. We want to work with serious people who will make a real change.”

To learn more about HHH does walk into the Whitsunday Hearing office or visit their website to donate online.

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