Pharrell Williams is on the journey with Woolworths to help save the lives of 10 children with severe ear disease and prevent hearing loss for 750 children per year.
Woolworths flew three children from Cape Town, all affected by hearing difficulties, to London earlier this year to star in a shoot with the global icon. The aim is to help highlight the common goal of improving the lives of children in South Africa in various ways. Ruben, Anuk and Shakoor were really excited to visit London and meet Williams, and particularly enjoyed riding on the double-decker red busses and underground trains. These young models’ experiences reveal the incredible changes that can be achieved through timely medical interventions.
Ruben could hear very little and was unable to speak before he received two hearing aids in 2012. Now he is in Grade R in a mainstream school, interacting with and working at the same level as children without hearing restrictions. “Ruben is very outgoing, makes friends easily and has done very well,” said his mother, Marissa Botha. “He likes learning about maths and science concepts, writes his own name and knows the letters of the alphabet.” Ruben’s grandparents have just moved to Cape Town, and he is looking forward to spending Christmas with them this year.
After his mother, Kariema Hendricks, realised she had to repeat herself two or three times before he understood her, Shakoor received a hearing aid in 2012. “It took a while for Shakoor to get used to the hearing aid,” says Kariema, “but when he realised how it was helping him to hear he matured. He wears it most of the time, only taking it off for activities like swimming, and then he stores it in a special jar,” she explains. Kariema speaks highly of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, saying that they are very good with children, and the staff explains things to parents in a way they can understand.
Born at 26 weeks, complications led to profound hearing loss. Anuk had her first cochlear implant in May 2010 and the second in August 2012, followed by intensive speech and occupational therapy, as well as physiotherapy. “Before the operation, Anuk struggled to express her emotions in words and we had a lot of emotional outbursts at home, which were very unsettling,” explains Anuk’s mother, Liza Lombaard. “After the first implant Anuk was taught how to express her emotions in words, and today she loves making jokes and she talks a lot,” says Liza. “With the first implant her imagination developed—it made sound possible, and the second implant allows her to hear where sound comes from and the proximity. She can now also follow the rules of a game, which was not possible before, and limited her circle of friends.”
“Anuk wants to be a model” says Liza, “so I immediately agreed for her to participate in the shoot, in order to show the world that it is possible for deaf children to look pretty and be ‘normal’ – to break the stigma that surrounds deaf people,” she explains. “Today they can lead normal lives and through this campaign we can show what people’s contribution can make possible.”
All It Takes Is A Swipe
Every time you swipe a MySchool or linked WRewards card while shopping at Woolworths between 5 November and 25 December, Woolworths will make a donation to the Children’s Hospital Trust. All the funds raised during this period go towards much-needed specialist equipment and medical tools used for ear and hearing examinations, diagnosis and life-changing operating procedures at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. The money will allow 10 children who are suffering from severe ear disease to be operated on, and will ensure that they regain or do not lose their ability to hear. “Wonderful medical interventions are possible and can significantly improve the lives of hundreds of children, but unfortunately these procedures are expensive. This is an easy way for customers to help give back, at no extra cost to themselves, and help to improve children’s access to specialist help.”
SOURCE: Raphaella Frame-Tolmie, PR Manager: Foods, Special Occasions and Homeware