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A spirit that is not afraid

Donating The Miracle of Sound

In May, Dr. Sandra Clark-Lewis, clinical professor of audiology in the Department of Communication Disorders, will travel to Guatemala. Unlike many, she will not be on vacation.

Clark-Lewis is responsible for Auburn Audiology Outreach in Guatemala, an established program which provides hearing screenings for impoverished children and hearing aids for those who exhibit significant hearing loss.

Hearing aids were donated to the cause by the GN ReSound Corporation, an international hearing aid provider.

Clark-Lewis made her first trip to Guatemala as part of the program in August 2009 along with six doctoral students and two Auburn University alumni. On the first trip, they tested the hearing of more than 400 native children.

"It was an interesting time for all of us to meet these children who have so little in their material world but are beautiful, smart, ambitious and polite," Clark-Lewis said of her August trip. "We fell in love with the children and established a wonderful relationship with the teachers and the administrators at the schools."

The program was originally invited by the Municipality of Guatemala City to provide service for children attending three inner-city schools. When interest in the program was expressed by many students in the audiology doctoral program, Clark-Lewis applied for funding.

She received a $14,749 grant from the Auburn University Office of Outreach and an additional $3,800 from the College of Liberal Arts, without which the program have been impossible.

"The grant money has allowed our audiology program to establish a relationship with The Municipality of Guatemala City that we hope will continue for many years," Clark-Lewis said.

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Auburn also provided an additional grant for the purchase of an audiometer, which will be given to the schools in Guatemala City.

Clark-Lewis will be returning to Guatemala May 1 with four doctoral students and one undergraduate who will assist with translation during the stay.

Larry Molt, associate professor in the Department of Communications Disorders, will also be accompanying the group.

According to the Auburn Audiology Outreach website, funding for the program is only guaranteed through the end of this semester. Additional funds are being raised to continue the program.

According to Clark-Lewis, efforts are being made to reconnect with Auburn alumni in order to raise funds to finance anyone who wishes to participate in the program.

In an open letter to Patricia Arzu, wife of the mayor of Guatemala City, President Jay Gogue of Auburn University expressed his hope that "our audiology students will graduate with a greater appreciation of their place in the global community and will dedicate themselves to the sort of selfless service that your life has so clearly expressed."

Clark-Lewis reaffirmed her hope for the continued success of the program.

"We want this to be a long-term relationship," Clark-Lewis said.

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