The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 5% of the world’s population (360 million) has some degree of hearing loss, including approximately 30 million Americans. Many of those around the world who experience hearing loss do not have access to needed technology and services. In an effort to remedy this global issue, Chicago-based Beltone has generously donated over $800,000 worth of hearing aids, software and training since 2007 to Chicago’s sister cities in a partnership with Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI).
On May 5, 2016, Beltone continued their commitment to “helping the world hear better” with a $200,000 donation of hearing aids, software and training to the Colombian Institute of Audiology and Language (ICAL), a non-profit which promotes the education and rehabilitation of deaf and hearing impaired children aged 0 to 17 in Chicago’s sister city of Bogota, Colombia and its neighboring city of Chía. The Bogota and Humanitarian Committees of CSCI worked together to secure the donation and identify ICAL as the recipient of the donation. Previously, Beltone made similar donations to organizations in Chicago’s sister cities of Amman, Jordan and Casablanca, Morocco.
Beltone and CSCI presented the donation to ICAL at a reception with over 125 guests on Thursday, May 5, 2016 from 6–8:00 p.m. at the residence of Kevin Whitaker, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia.
“I am confident that this donation of hearing aids and equipment will pave the way for Chicago and Bogota to work together in the future in many projects and initiatives that will mutually benefit both communities,” said Ambassador Whitaker. “The fact that this donation is occurring as a result of Chicago Sister Cities International is extremely significant. It serves as a great example of how the Sister Cities model can be a powerful social responsibility tool for creating collaboration between two cities and their communities, and by extension between countries, especially in terms of commercial, cultural, academic, and knowledge exchanges.”
Present at the reception and donation ceremony were Ambassador Whitaker; Philip Laidlaw, Deputy Chief of Mission; Susan Bell, Public Affairs Officer; Patricia Ferreira, Executive Director of ICAL; Susan Leonis, Co-Chair of the Humanitarian Committee of CSCI; Marcelino Garcia, Co-Chair of the Bogota Committee of CSCI; Ruben Ocampo, Co-Chair of the Bogota Committee of CSCI; Adrienne Tongate, Deputy Director of CSCI; Anel Montes, Director of International Programs for CSCI; and members of the 12-person delegation from Chicago.
“For our children, it is a life-changing opportunity to have this technology that will not only contribute to their rehabilitation process, but will also allow the exercising of their rights to an education and enhance their personal development,” said Patricia Ferreira, Executive Director of ICAL.
Chicago and Bogota have been sister cities since 2009.