Expo 2020 Dubai: When UAE paid hundreds of thousands of dirhams to help expat girl hear

Filipina mother was struggling to pay for deaf child's cochlear implant

By Web Desk

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Published: Fri 22 Jul 2022, 7:58 PM

Last updated: Fri 22 Jul 2022, 10:20 PM

A Filipina mother working at Expo 2020 Dubai had the surprise of her life when she realised that the UAE Government had covered the cost of her daughter's cochlear implant.

The Expo team shared the heart-warming experience of Dominique Villafuerte on its social media platforms.

It was in 2017, before joining the Expo, that she and her husband learnt that their daughter Michelle Grace was deaf and needed cochlear implants – an electronic device that improves hearing.

The year was coincidentally observed in the UAE as the 'Year of Giving'. Marking the occasion, the Ministry of Health and Prevention launched 'The Help Me Hear' initiative, which aimed to assist the needs of children with hearing loss by carrying out cochlear planting operations.

"We were fortunate enough to be given the chance to have our daughter's cochlear implant for her right ear free of cost, courtesy of the UAE Government. Fast forward to 2018, during the National Cay celebrations at Expo for my colleagues, I shared my daughter's story with the organisation, and a member of the communications team remembered that story in 2019 and wanted to do a quick video relating to this," she said.

Villafuerte then shared that video with Dr Eman AlHouli from Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah, who performed the surgery.

"She asked why we did not do the surgery for the other ear. Each surgery costs around Dh200,000. So, we didn't do the other ear because we didn't have that kind of money just lying around. So, Dr Eman asked us to come and meet her in her clinic. We did, and when we sat down – she said the other surgery has been approved by the Ministry! No questions asked! All this after sharing that link with her. I'd like to think that the reason why our daughter got her other surgery is because of Expo's video."


Villafuerte's daughter finally had her surgery in December 2019 and has been hearing from both sides ever since.

"We are forever grateful for Expo. One of the lessons Expo has taught me is that no matter how dim your situation would be, there are always good people in this world who will help you one way or another - so we shouldn't lose hope at all!"

Dominique's inspiring story is a glowing example of how the Expo has transformed lives, not just of those within the country, but of all its 24.1 million visitors.

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