Today, Dr. Melissa Innis, an audiologist who traveled with us with 8 donated hearing aids, decided on the first 4 kids whom she decided had the most high-necessity for hearing aids, and we watched the fitting. One of the kids is 16 and has been traveling by himself to school since he was 11. He told us that the hearing aids would really help him to hear noises on the street. The smile on all 4 kids’ faces when they were able to hear again for the first time was priceless. While Dr. Innis was programming the hearing aids, you could definitely see when the kids started hearing by the huge smile on their faces. A lot of people cried today. Everyone agreed that it was definitely one of the most joyous moments we had ever seen. It really means so much to the kids and their families to be able to receive a hearing aid that costs around 1500 dollars. The average Bolivian makes only 70 pesos a month, which is the equivalent about 10 US dollars. Just the batteries alone cost 10 Bolivian pesos a month, so Dr. Innis gave some to the children who received hearing aids.
The therapy sessions today were great, because in a few of the sessions a parent joined us. We really want the children to be able to keep up with their work after we leave, otherwise everything we do here is useless. If the teachers or parents do not decide to invest time in the therapies that we are working on now, our work is not sustainable. That is why it is so exciting to get so many parents involved. It is really amazing how dedicated and loving a lot of these parents are.
We’re definitely building a lot of rapport with the kids as we become closer and closer to them. A lot of us really got the kids motivated to vocalize through playing “Zingo” today, which is a game similar to bingo. We also read books to them, and did some language development work.They’re really motivated to learn, and they’re all actually very well behaved. We wish we had longer to work with them but we are trying to also develop sustainability through “circle time”, through working with the teachers to create some sustainable plans in the classroom as well.