When you compose songs and produce albums, for an artist, the expectation is for people to hear the songs and enjoy them to the fullest. There is therefore a big gap when you have people, who have challenges in hearing.
There is a saying that goes like “because I hear I leave”. Today there are people in the world including Malawi where people have hearing impairment and this also includes children.
It is in this vein that an organization known as Smiling Crocodile Charity set up by Dagmar Herrmannova in 2009, took up a long tradition of supporting hearing impaired children (rehabilitation, education, integration, structure of services) internationally, especially in developing countries in Africa and Asia.
The aim of the organization according to Smiling Crocodile Charity is to promote everyone in that everybody has the right to hear in spite of their economic situation, place where they live, culture and religion.
Herrmannova observes that Malawi is one of many countries Smiling Crocodile has helped.
“We are in India, different countries of Africa, Bangladesh, but also Russia, Kazakhstan, Jordan. More than 600 children got the benefit already and more than 30 centres, but it is not enough. We work a lot with children in slums, orphanages, with street children,” Herrmannova said.
Herrmannova said there are a lot of misconceptions as regards hearing impairment children especially girls where some have associated it to witchcraft whereas others have blamed it on mothers.
“Families are ashamed to have hearing impaired child and do everything possible to solve it or hide the problem,” Herrmannova said.
Seeking to help many of these children, Smiling Crocodile came out to support individual children, families and centres and that it has on-going campaign #BecauseIhearIlive.
“#BecauseIhearIlive is: International awareness campaign based on real stories and outcomes of more than 600 hearing impaired children living in poverty from Asia and Africa which Smiling Crocodile supported,” he said.
The general message of the campaign #BecauseIhearIlive is to among others, create awareness about the conditions of hearing impaired children living in poverty, highlight that everybody has the right to hear in spite of the economic situation or life circumstances and that everybody was an equal part of the society and deserves good quality of life.
Hence part of the campaign is a song ‘Because I hear I live’, which is supporting hearing impaired people internationally with the aim and goal to share the message around the world that everybody has the right to hear and have good quality of life in spite of the life circumstances, conditions, nationality and religion.
According to Smiling Crocodile, this song is acting as an international anthem of hearing impaired and was being used in different events, music festivals, conferences and media.
In order to appeal to more people across the world, the song was now being translated to different languages and this saw famous singer and song writer, Milan Peroutka, from Prague singing the song in different languages as a duet with identified hearing impaired singer (singers) or some professional well known singers.
The song has now been translated to languages such as English, French, Russian, Chichewa, Tamil, Chinese, German, Arabic, Sign Language, Bangla and that for each there was a video clip done. The songs has been done in nine languages from 12 countries.
This year Smiling Crocodile has decided to run a charity tour with the song ‘Because I Hear I Live’, with an aim of bringing awareness on hearing impairment.
Having been part of translating the song, Faith, who has been involved in a number of activities for a cause including encouraging a girl child to go to school, will be holding a concert on April 4 2020 at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
Faith famed for the hit ‘Mdidi’, said he was excited to be part of this project.
“The song I worked on is in several languages and in Malawi, I did it in Chichewa, as one of the many languages. It was a good experience for me. There were rules guiding making of this song and I had to maintain the tune,” Faith said.
He said he was happy to work with Milan, a well-known established artist.
“It’s an important thing to do because what is music without hearing it, so every person operated, is able to hear music and it was good to perform in front of some of these children just after being operated on and the smiles they gave out was amazing,” he said.
He also added that the song creation process was a good experience and that working with an artist from a different culture was something special.
Med El Managing Director, Cassandra Brown, whose organization has been working with Smiling Crocodile and supporting this cause, hailed Faith and his team for being part of the project but also coming up with a charity concert whose proceeds will go towards supporting the operations.
“Faithisaninternationallyknown artist and by having this concert in April and also translating the song, will help generate opportunities for children with hearing impairment,” Brown said.
She said music connects to everyone and that it brings everyone together hence working on a song and that working worth Faith was something special.
“The song goes straight to your heart. It is touching because it talks about a child who can’t hear,” Brown said.
Faith’s manager, Sam Chiwaka, said Faith’s involvement in the project was part of his Corporate Social Responsibility.
“The organisation is accountable of what they are doing and the cause they are doing is least supported and so we are using the song as well as the concert to enhance awareness so that the corporate world and other well-wishers can come out and support,” Chiwaka said.
According to www.explore-life.com, ‘Because I Hear, I Live, (Ndikumva) was changing lives in Malawi and that in many countries, babies and young children have their hearing tested as standard.
But in Malawi, it was still a challenge with only three audiologists and two surgeons, who supported a population of over 18 million people.
It further says that hearing loss was on the rise in the country and that 10 years ago, there was virtually no audiology facilities for even basic hearing tests in the country and no facilities or trained clinicians.
But fast forward to 2019 and the partnership of donated Med-El cochlear implants and an investment of much time and training from Dr Strachan and a team of volunteer audiology professionals from the United Kingdom has not only led to 16 children having their hearing restored, but rather great strides have been made towards a sustainable hearing loss treatment system for Malawi.
According to www.explore-life. com, the country’s first cochlear implant patient was Richard. A young boy who, after losing his hearing, began to struggle to keep up in school. The first two words spoken by Richard on the day that his cochlear implant was ‘switched-on’ summed up perfectly the life-changing success of the operations “Ndikumva!” (I hear).