Joseph Parker lends support to Samoan hearing initiative

WBO World Heavyweight Champion, Lupesoli'ai Laaulialemalietoa Joseph Parker, talks about his support for the Bay Audiology Free to Ear - Samoa programme that will help restore hearing to thousands in need in his homeland.



There are currently around 4,000 people who have untreated hearing issues in Samoa.


With no qualified audiologists and limited access to ear nose and throat specialists, many of those with hearing issues are left untreated.


The Bay Audiology programme returns to Apia for the second year in early August 2017 and will see hundreds of people screened for hearing problems and fitted with donated hearing aids.


The team was inundated on their first visit in 2016 with hundreds of people arriving for the hearing check, including an entire classroom of children.


Bay Audiology is partnering with local health NGO SENESE who have also been trained in the maintenance of hearing aids and ongoing screening to provide continued support after their visits.


Joseph Parker visited SENESE on a recent trip home to Samoa earlier this year.


“Living in New Zealand, I’m lucky enough to have access to an audiologist or hearing specialist should I ever need it,” says the boxer.


“People in Samoa currently don’t have the same access to the hearing health services we take for granted in New Zealand, which is why programmes like this are so important.”



In the past the heavyweight champion was unlucky enough to experience temporary hearing loss after a Championship fight.


“I was punched so hard in the left ear I wasn’t able to hear anything out of my ear at all for over a fortnight.


“Having temporary hearing loss made me feel isolated and distant from everyone – friends, family and my community. It made me appreciate my hearing even more when it did return. It also gave me a small insight into what it would be like to live with hearing loss long-term.


“So, I wanted to do whatever I could to encourage people to come forward and seek assistance.”


Naomi Asi, Acting Director of SENESE says half of the 4,000 known cases of mild to severe hearing loss in Samoan would very easily be treated with hearing aids.


In children, untreated hearing loss can interfere with development of speech, which impacts on a child’s ability to learn and can often lead to behavioural and social problems.


In adults, the inability to communicate, along with other factors such as the stigma of disability can result in social isolation and inability to gain or maintain employment.


“For those who suffer from hearing loss become very self-conscious - they stop attending church, they stop going to school, and they fall behind in their community,” says Asi.


“Our hope is that with the strong support of Joseph Parker, we will see more people come forward to get help and get back to enjoying a full life again."


Bay Audiology, Managing Director Dean Lawrie says they are extremely grateful for Joseph Parker’s support.


“It is wonderful to see our Free to Ear – Samoa programme continue to grow thanks to our partners SENESE and all of our New Zealand customers who have donated hearing aids.


“It is thanks to them that we have been able to restore the hearing and transform the lives of hundreds and we hope eventually, thousands of people.”