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Harvest Appeal 2009  

This year's Harvest appeal will be divided between two charities:

  • Sound Seekers (The British Commonwealth Society for the Deaf)
  • Practical Action - to support the people of the Blue Nile State

Sound Seekers (The British Commonwealth Society for the Deaf)

Sound Seekers, also known as The Commonwealth Society for the Deaf, sprang from humble beginnings in 1959. Lady Templer, the wife of the Governor of Malaya, was moved by her experiences to assemble a group of London-based ENT surgeons, audiologists and educators of the deaf. She convinced them to travel back with her to Malaysia to offer their help to children affected by hearing loss and ear disease. From this improvised beginning, The Commonwealth Society for the Deaf was born and nearly 50 years later, it continues Lady Templer’s pioneering work.  

Sound Seekers is not a large organization. It relies on just three full-time members of staff. Its mission in the developing countries of the Commonwealth remains the same today as it was in 1959:

  • To treat infective ear diseases amongst children

  • To help deaf children to learn to communicate in order that they can benefit from the opportunities that education can offer and enjoy as full a life as possible. 

2009 is a very exciting year for Sound Seekers. It marks an important milestone in its development - its 50th Anniversary. The year of celebration started in May 2009, during National Deaf Awareness Week and will continue into 2010, culminating in an event in May that will mark the close of the 50th Anniversary year. To ensure Sound Seekers continues to deliver benefits to thousands of deaf children throughout the poorest Commonwealth nations a number of projects and new initiatives have been planned.

HARK! Projects

A HARK! vehicle is a bespoke mobile clinic, built to Sound Seekers’ own specification.  It is based on a Land Rover Defender 130 ambulance with a body that has been built to minimise sound interference in order to allow testing of hearing to take place inside it.  Each vehicle carries its own generator, to enable the electronic testing equipment to be operated in areas without a stable electricity supply.  It also carries its own water supply, fridge for pharmaceuticals, air conditioning and two external awnings to provide shade for waiting patients.  The vehicle carries the audiology equipment necessary to assess a patient's hearing and the health of the ear, including otoscopes, tympanometers and audiometers.

A HARK! project goes beyond the provision of a mobile clinic.  Other essential elements include the secondment of local staff to the HARK! team, their training, the setting up of the HARK! administration office and ultimately, the delivery of a programme of outreach visits across the country.  The programme also includes the setting up of permanent laboratories for the manufacture of ear moulds for hearing aids and the calibration, repair and maintenance of audiology equipment.  Donated hearing aids recycled and sent to Sound Seekers projects and other hospitals and schools in some of the poorest countries where there is a demand. 

Each HARK! project helps thousands of children each year who are suffering from hearing loss/deafness and ear disease.  By providing screening, diagnosis and treatment of ear disease and hearing loss, fitting hearing aids and providing a referral service (referring to hospital for surgery or schools for the deaf) the quality of a child’s life and educational opportunities can be hugely improved. 

HARK! projects have covered the following countries: Uganda, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, India -Tamil Nadu, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and India.

Future Activities  

Further HARK! projects have been planned for Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana and Camaroon. We are also planning to build a school for deaf children in Kenya. Each project ranges in cost from £50,000 - £200,000 and still need funding.

Sound Seekers will continue to run its six-week Audiology Maintenance Technology (AMT) course for the benefit of technicians, nurses, health practitioners and teachers of the deaf, in Kampala, Uganda.

Sound Seekers wishes to make its 50th Anniversary, a year in which it is able to make a substantial difference through the delivery and impact of its projects. Less than 40% of funding comes from statutory sources, which means that Sound Seekers relies on donations from charitable trusts, companies and individuals to ensure projects continue to be developed and funded.

Donations to Sound Seekers 

Any funds raised through Charity of the Year will make a huge difference to new projects and activities for which we are still seeking funds (see above).

  • It costs £45,000 to build a bespoke HARK! vehicle. 

  • A further £10,000 will equip the vehicle with state of the art audiology equipment. 

  • The cost to send one student to the AMT course in Kampala is £2,300. 

  • The cost of replacing dilapidated and outdated audiology equipment to hospitals costs between 50p and £2,500 

  • It costs just £10 to ensure a child receives the screening and treatment that is needed.

Click here to learn more about Sound Seekers.

Practical Action 

This charity supports many projects throughout the third world.  We intend to focus on helping the people of Blue Nile State, Eastern Sudan.  These people were displaced during the civil war conflict that raged in Sudan for 15 years.  

The fighting claimed the lives of some 1.5 million people, with many more being forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods to flee the danger.  

A peace deal was signed in 2005 and these displaced people began to return home, but they were faced with an impossible situation.  Their land was ruined and they were unable to access even basic services.  They could only grow occasional crops and had no means of storing what little food they did produce.  They were forced below the poverty line, along with over 80% of the population and were on the brink of starvation.  

Since 2007, Practical Action has been working with communities across Blue Nile State providing the skills and tools to work their way out of poverty. Here, simple technologies can make a real difference to families' daily lives. For instance, Zeer pots provide an effective way to preserve crops for longer.

These simple pottery refrigerators consist of one earthenware pot set inside another, with a layer of wet sand in between. As the moisture evaporates, it cools the contents of the inner pot, helping to keep vital foods, such as okra and tomatoes, fresh for weeks. No longer are farmers' crops perishing before they have had the chance to make use of them.

More generally, Practical Action's work in this area is strengthening the capacity of thousands of war-returnees, providing opportunities to change their lives collectively. 

Community Farms are proving very productive, freeing-up greater land and farming technologies than a lone farmer could access. 

The Village Development Committees, which have so successfully empowered communities across Darfur, are also starting to influence the decisions being made in the Blue Nile. 

Women in particular, are beginning to see the difference that can be made once their voices are heard.

Click here to learn more about Practical Action's work in the Blue Nile State.

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One of the HARK! vehicles





Hearing Test





Hearing Test






Audiology Technology Maintenance Course, Kampala, Uganda
















A Zeer pot showing locally grown vegetables