ears to our world

At ETOW, we believe access to information is access to education. We provide innovative, simple and appropriate technologies to schools and communities in remote, rural and impoverished regions of our world.

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Donation Crosses Globe as AIM Sets Sights on ETOW’s Humanitarian Mission


Ears to Our World is delighted to announce that it has accepted a generous — and wholly unexpected — gift from a non-profit educational institution…clear on the other side of the globe. It’s an ideal illustration of how access to information shrinks the world, and can make it a better place at the same time.

ETOW founder Thomas Witherspoon said the unforeseen largesse, from the Australian Institute of Music (AIM), which learned of ETOW through an Internet search, would support the organization’s continuing work in countries like Kenya, Cameroon, and South Sudan, where it has expanded its presence with a recent shipment of radios. The shortwave broadcast receivers ETOW distributes enable children and their support networks in the most remote, impoverished parts of the world to hear educational programming, local and international news, emergency and health information, as well as music and arts programming.

The ambitious, course-related endeavor that led to the donation was a fulfillment of AIM’s Events and Project Management class. Dubbed “Memories & Melodies,” it was held at the Gaelic Theatre, Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia, and focused on the theme of “Music Nostalgia” through film clips, hired props, and highlights from musical history. Entertainment included a hoopla performer, a ballet dancer, and a comedic gypsy. Guests also enjoyed a glam booth and photo booth, bingo, a dance competition, and a DJ playing hits from the 1950s through the present. Revenue would be collected from ticket sales, raffles, donations, a silent auction, and sponsorships. To donate those proceeds, the non-profit institution wanted to find a charity that aligned with its own vision.

AIM fundraising team photo from "Memories and Melodies"--all dressed in the music nostalgia theme.

AIM fundraising team photo from "Memories and Melodies"--all dressed in the music nostalgia theme.

Ashton Smith, project manager for “Memories and Melodies” and a student of AIM, said, “We agreed to align the event with an organization which focuses on ‘access to the arts’ in some form or another.” After much “scouring of the Web,” as Smith puts it, they came across ETOW, which had a further appeal to them by also targeting communities disadvantaged by social, political, or economic circumstances. They selected ETOW as the sole recipient of their donation. “At the Australian Institute of Music, we value the importance of having access to broadcast media, and can think of no better cause to support,” he added.

“Memories & Melodies” was a resounding success, attended by 140 people and raising a total of $1,700 for ETOW.

Witherspoon says the donation perfectly reflects ETOW’s core principle that access to information is access to education, stating, “Here we have an educational institute in Australia reaching out via the Web — the ultimate access tool — to a humanitarian organization in the U.S. to help foster its efforts in schools in Africa. It’s also inspiring, and humbling, that the young people behind the event, many of whom will one day work in mass media, chose to donate the fruits of their labors to people without mass media, in small villages in another hemisphere. It doesn’t get any more global than this.” 

“As we here at AIM make music our life, it's hard to imagine a life without it,” explains Ashton Smith. “Throw in education, news and health information and you've got power through access to information. ETOW just offered the full spectrum for those who need it the most and we were proud to support them.”

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