On April 16, 2016, a powerful 7.8 magnitude struck Ecuador killing hundreds, injuring thousands and destroying countless homes and buildings. The hardest hit area was the coastal area including the town of Manta.
In rebuilding their future, Woodland Public Charity brought the “Hearing the Call” team for the first time to the seaside town in Ecuador. From the moment the bus pulled in to the area, patients were waiting. During the training session, the team set-up their make-shift clinic at the hotel. They saw 19 patients that evening including the Mayor of Manta who gave nothing but smiles and a thumbs up for the assistance.
The first full clinic day was at a school where literally hundreds of kids were waiting to be screened and tested. One father brought his daughter 3 hours from the city of Guayaquil just to get help. She says she was bullied in school because of her hearing loss. After being fitted, the father shared that when you’re a parent you will do anything to help your child and he knows the hearing device will give her a chance in school and life.
Each patient has a story. For some, it was a chance to hear again, and for others, it was a moment to hear for the first time. From some, the chance to smile and others a moment of tears of joy.
We always talk about the “hearing smile” but what we don’t talk about is the deeper meaning. A perfect example is Byron. He was a 15-year-old boy. When Byron first came into the clinic he was shy and quiet, so much so when the camera panned the waiting room, he hid behind his papers. He didn’t want to be seen, he wanted to just disappear.
Byron’s father says they did not know what was wrong with their son, taking him to many doctors including a psychiatrist. His father thought he had problems and told people that he hoped others wouldn’t make his son feel bad.
What turned out to be the problem was a mild to severe hearing loss. Byron was fit with a hearing device and an amazing thing happened. Very quickly, Byron started to open up. He smiled, he engaged. It was a complete transformation. It was more than a “hearing smile,” it was a brand new “hearing personality.”
His mother was moved to tears and could hardly speak afterwards. She says she was in another world. Byron’s father was so happy, he could not stop smiling himself. As for Byron, he says he is looking forward to listening to rap music and doing better in school. He wants to be a sailor, and you could see by the way he held his mother’s hand that there was hope in the family.
Byron was just one of the more than 600 people screened and more than 100 people fitted with hearing devices. None of this is possible without your help, so thank you to all the Entheos members. You are making a difference at home and overseas.