More Than 1,000 Palestinians Receive the Gift of Hearing as Part of Israel-Palestine Hearing Mission of Peace

By Starkey Hearing Foundation, PRNE
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, May 26, 2011 -

- Starkey Hearing Foundation, Sheba Medical Center, American Friends of
Sheba Medical Center, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel Team up in
Cross-Border Humanitarian Effort

The Starkey Hearing Foundation and its Israeli partners concluded today
its Israel-Palestine Hearing Mission of Peace in the West Bank region,
fitting more than 1,000 Palestinian children and adults with hearing devices.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation hopes the three-day effort will promote
greater communication and understanding among the local communities through
improved hearing.

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In an unprecedented manner, the Starkey Hearing Foundation
Israel-Palestine Hearing Mission of Peace brought Americans, Israelis and
Palestinians together for the mission which was held Tuesday, May 24 through
Thursday, May 26 at the Khaled ben Said school in Tulkarem, Palestine (West
region). This first-of-its-kind hearing mission to the area involved the
coordination of medical and security personnel, along with volunteers, from
all three countries made possible through the collaborative efforts of the
Starkey Hearing Foundation, the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in
Israel, the American Friends of Sheba Medical Center in New York, and
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

"The Starkey Hearing Foundation Israel-Palestine Hearing Mission of Peace
is a humanitarian effort unlike any hearing mission we have done before
anywhere in the world," said Bill Austin, Founder, Starkey Hearing
Foundation. "In our ongoing desire to deliver the gift of hearing to those in
need, we thank our Israeli partners and the Palestinian people for giving us
the opportunity to bring about a life-changing event for each of the
recipients we were able to help. It is our hope that this work will make
possible greater understanding and communication."

During the three-day Israel-Palestine Hearing Mission of Peace, Austin
led a team of audiologists from the Starkey Hearing Foundation, along with
experts from the Sheba Medical Center and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.
The group worked together to fit each of the recipients who ranged in age
from four to 75, and hailed from as far as Hebron in the South, to Jenin in
the North.

Among the recipients who received hearing aids were sisters Aya Ayman
Ahmad Daghmash, 10 years old, and Youmna Ayman Ahmad Daghmash, nine years
old. The girls were both diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of five and
spent several years in a special boarding school away from their family. In
order to transfer to a school nearer to their home, their teachers requested
that the parents fit them with hearing aids which the family could not
afford. The Starkey Hearing Foundation was an answer to their prayers said
their father. "I must admit I nearly cried to see them receive the hearing
aids. This is a present from above for us. We thank everyone who made this
dream come true."

Also receiving a hearing aid was Raneem Rami Jamal Shallakh, four, who
suffers from 80 percent hearing loss. Raneem's father could not afford the
cost of a hearing aid for his only daughter. When it was placed in her ear
she could finally say "mom" and "dad" out loud. "Yesterday I wouldn't have
believed this," said her father. "Now I'm planning to take my little girl to
speech classes to help her speak better."

Among the older recipients were 52-year-old Faiz Ibrahim Salah Sha'aban,
who resides in the Nur Shams Refugee Camp and works as a driver for the local
public transportation system; and 51-year-old, Omar Shade Mezid of Anabta.
Mezid told Foundation staff that he believes his hearing loss came as a
result of working in a stone quarry 10 years ago. Today, Mezid works as an
accountant for the Office of Education and has faced many difficulties
hearing people in everyday communications.

Said Professor Zeev Rotstein, Director of Sheba Medical Center, "The
hospital's vision includes helping our neighbors here. This is something that
we have placed an emphasis on for years. On a personal level, one-to-one,
when you take away the politics, I feel that we can certainly maintain a true
dialogue and partnership between Israelis and Palestinians. During the
Starkey Hearing Foundation Mission we have managed to give children the
ability to hear for the first time in their life. And I hope they will also
hear our calls and yearning for true peace between our peoples."

"The American Friends of Sheba are very pleased to have participated in
this important effort, and to have brought the Starkey Hearing Foundation
together with the hospital," said Mrs. Helene Feldman, chairman of the
American Friends of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. "Sheba Medical
Center truly is a hospital without borders!"

Said Hadas Ziv, Director of Public Outreach, Physicians for Human Rights
- Israel, "The lives of these individuals were changed by medical teams and
they can now hear. We are extremely proud to be part of this life
transforming effort together with the Starkey Hearing Foundation and Sheba
Medical Center."

Hearing missions are the primary way the Starkey Hearing Foundation
realizes its goal so the world may hear. Each year, the Foundation conducts
hearing missions both in the U.S. and internationally, and has set a goal of
reaching 1,000,000 individuals in need by the end of this decade.

According to the Foundation, hearing loss is pervasive affecting 63
million children alone worldwide. Yet, with the help of a hearing device,
hearing loss can often be corrected in a majority cases, giving an individual
the opportunity to better connect with their family, the community, and the
world around them.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation team is committed to creating a
sustainable model for its missions that provides the hearing aid recipients
with the tools and resources to properly maintain them, including a year's
supply of batteries, as well as instruction on how to properly care for and
maintain the devices. The Foundation also identifies local certified hearing
health organizations to assist the recipients following the mission, if

About the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer

Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer has been the Starkey Hearing
Foundation's lead partner in the region, providing medical staff and
technicians, ground support and local coordination for the mission. The Sheba
Medical Center at Tel Hashomer is a university-affiliated tertiary referral
hospital that serves as Israel's national medical center in many fields.
Adjacent to Tel Aviv, it is the most comprehensive medical center in the
Middle East, renowned for its compassionate care and leading-edge medicine.
In addition to being a global center for medical education, it is also a
major medical-scientific research facility that collaborates internationally
with the bio-tech and pharmaceutical industries to develop new drugs,
treatments and technologies.

About American Friends of Sheba Medical Center in New York

American Friends of Sheba Medical Center in New York has been the focal
point in leading, guiding and supporting the Starkey Hearing Foundation in
accessing the needed resources at Sheba and in Israel. This organization has
played a vital role in bringing together the Foundation with Sheba Medical.
Their vision of this mission, and commitment has been critical. American
Friends of Sheba Medical in New York has been instrumental in advancing
Sheba's interests and access to the United States for more than 60 years.

About Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has worked closely with the Starkey
Hearing Foundation and Sheba Medical Center to organize patient
identification in the area, as well as pre-mission efforts to collect ear
molds for each of the recipients. PHR-Israel has also worked in the
coordination of security efforts with the Palestinian authority to ensure the
safety of the team and recipients throughout the mission. Physicians for
Human Rights-Israel is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that
strives to promote a more fair and inclusive society in which the right to
health is applied equally for all. PHR-Israel stands at the forefront of the
struggle for human rights and the right to health particularly, in Israel and
its occupied Palestinian territory.

About Starkey Hearing Foundation

The Starkey Hearing Foundation is striving to change the social
consciousness of hearing and hearing loss prevention. Hearing loss affects
one in 10 Americans, and 63 million children worldwide, yet many do not have
access to the hearing devices that can help correct that disability. The
Foundation now delivers more than 100,000 hearing aids through hearing
missions in countries stretching from the U.S. to Vietnam. Since 2000, the
Foundation has supplied more than 500,000 hearing aids to people in need and
is striving to achieve its goal of distributing over one million free hearing
aids in this decade. In addition to giving the gift of hearing, the
Foundation partners with Best Buy and the Grammy Foundation to promote 'safe
hearing', and recently launched a campaign aimed at preventing hearing loss
among teens and young people called Listen Carefully. For more information on
the Starkey Hearing Foundation, visit

Rosalie Hagel, Rosalie at, or Lauren Murley, Lauren at, both of M. Silver Associates Inc., +1-954-765-3636; Bonnie Sain, Starkey Hearing Foundation, +1-952-947-4678, office, or +1-612-859-0019, mobile, Bonnie_Sain at; or Stephan Bassett, Sheba Medical Center, +1-212-586-4034, +1-212-729-6100, sab at / NOTE TO EDITORS: Photo credit for use of still images requested as follows: Eli Hershkovitz

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