eMoyo founder Dr Dirk Koekemoer shares his thoughts on what a recent collaborative hearing outreach mission with US organisation Entheos means for the future of the hearing impaired living on the Garden Route.
10-12 October 2022 proved an exciting time for hearing-impaired people living in and around the towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay in SA’s Southern Cape. eMoyo joined forces with US-based Entheos Hearing and local organisation Sabrina Love Foundation. Together, they offered free hearing tests and hearing aid fittings to residents of these coastal towns and their surrounding areas.
The Hearing the Call Outreach took place over three days, with two days spent in Plettenberg Bay and one in Knysna. On the final day of the mission, which took place at Knysna Town Hall, we met up with Dr Dirk Koekemoer, eMoyo’s founder and inventor of its flagship product, the globally acclaimed Kuduwave portable audiometer.
This revolutionary device was used for the first transatlantic tele-audiology hearing test and is even used by NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). However, its true value especially comes to the fore during hearing outreach mission trips in service to less-fortunate members of our society.
Kicking off our series of Q&A interviews with role players in the Entheos and eMoyo hearing outreach mission on the Garden Route, Dr Koekemoer discusses his hopes for future outreach missions with fellow collaborators, Entheos Hearing and Sabrina Love Foundation. He also reflects on moving encounters with patients, the Kuduwave’s suitability for philanthropic missions and more.
eMoyo is committed to bringing quality hearing healthcare to all who need it. What were your impressions of this outreach mission with Entheos Hearing and Sabrina Love Foundation?
Being part of the outreach with Sabrina Love Foundation and Entheos Hearing was a very soulful experience. That’s what we at eMoyo live for as a med-tech company – creating equipment and technologies to help people during these philanthropic outreaches. Without that, what we’re doing here today would not be possible.
It was just wonderful to see how successful this mission was, how people arrived in droves, waiting, smiling and happy. Once we had fitted their hearing aids, they’d often just cry. These are people who could never afford this kind of treatment any other way.
“We really see a bright future for this project.”
Overall, it was an incredible experience that made a huge impact. This was our first time servicing this area, so we hope even more people will arrive next year. Perhaps, next time, we can even extend the outreach by a day or two.
As a med-tech company, we work extremely hard to create technology that helps people in meaningful ways. It’s one thing to develop such technologies but another to get actively involved. To take part in these outreaches where Entheos Hearing and Sabrina Love Foundation get their people together to test hearing and fit hearing aids is a real joy. It was a very soulful experience that touched us all deeply. We at eMoyo take all these inspiring stories and experiences back to our engineers, who are diligently designing life-changing technologies at our headquarters.
Were there any moments or encounters during the Entheos outreach that stood out to you?
The final day in Knysna was particularly impactful because one of my first patients that day was a young child who was treated for MDR-TB as a baby. He received injectable medications and sadly, as a result, lost some of his hearing.
“We tested this beautiful child, and he responded extremely well. He was obviously clever but couldn’t hear anything above 2 000 hertz, and very little in the low frequencies. Testing him, seeing how he wanted to hear well and take part in what’s going on around him, was an amazing experience.”
After having his hearing tested, this young boy then went on to the moulding area, where we created his custom hearing aids. Finally, he had his hearing aids fitted. By this time, everyone involved was in tears.
“We all watched this young boy with his new hearing aids from a distance, and saw him suddenly smiling. He could say ‘mamma’, ‘pappa’ and other words correctly – without having to look at anyone to lipread. That immediately told us he could hear what was being said. It was a beautiful experience.”
How does it make you feel to see the Kuduwave, your invention, being used at hearing outreach missions like this one?
As a company so involved with creating technologies to reach and assist more people, it’s always wonderful to see your technology used practically in the field. Yes, we’ve got people using the Kuduwave for telemedicine and in outreach programmes, as well as in their practices and in occupational healthcare. However, it’s very rare for us to be part of clinical experiences, like during this Entheos outreach mission.
“The Kuduwave’s use in mission trips like this is very dear to our hearts. It inspires everyone at eMoyo to try and get new technologies designed, manufactured, and up and running, despite hard times. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved in what we do. Events like these keep us pushing on, working late nights, doing whatever it takes until we’ve got everything right.”
Have you received feedback from people tested at the Entheos outreach regarding the Kuduwave specifically?
Some people experiencing the Kuduwave for the first time would say: “Shouldn’t I sit in a sound booth?” Especially those who’ve worked in mines. They know you typically have to sit in a sound booth to have your hearing tested, so this experience was very new to them.
“The amazing thing was that most people didn’t even question what we were doing, using the Kuduwave. They simply trusted us. They could see for themselves, the technology at work, and that it is effective.”
Throughout these days, we got brilliant threshold readings using the Kuduwave. Even on a noisy floor with people talking in the background, we got perfect hearing tests! All in all, we had an incredible experience here with Entheos Hearing and Sabrina Love Foundation.
Do you have a message for people with hearing loss that are hesitant to reach out for help?
It’s crucial for people to understand the impact of hearing loss. You should take action the second you feel you’ve developed some form of hearing loss. Think of instances when people complain that you’re not hearing them, or tell you that you’re turning the TV volume up too loud.
People must not be afraid to go and get their hearing tested. Deafness or hearing loss is the second most common disability in the world. It’s also a severe disability because, if you cannot hear, it changes your life. That’s why people need to get tested early, especially older people.
“Don’t wait to get your hearing tested, because if you do, you might lose your ability to understand. Then, a hearing aid isn’t going to help you like it’s supposed to, had you gone for a test in the early stages of hearing loss.”
So please, go and get your hearing tested. Remember, the incidents of developing depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s are significantly higher if you cannot hear well. Don’t delay, have your hearing tested today!
Want to experience eMoyo’s Kuduwave portable audiometer for yourself?
If you’re a hearing healthcare practitioner and have yet to try the revolutionary Kuduwave, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today to arrange for a complimentary product demonstration.