Putting smiles on children’s faces with colorful hearing aids
Guatemala is the most populated country in Central America. Audiological care in the country, however, is very limited – there is only one audiologist in all of Guatemala: Paty Castellanos. She is the founder of the “Sonrisas que Escuchan” foundation (smiles who listen). Hear the World supports this organization with donations of hearing aids and volunteers.
Place & Year
Project PartnersFundación Sonrisas que Escuchan
The “Sonrisas que Escuchan” foundation has conducted hearing screenings throughout Guatemala for around nine years and also supplies hearing aids to those who could otherwise not afford them. The donation from Hear the World will make it possible to supply more children with high-quality hearing aids.
Capacity building and hearing screenings throughout the country
Paty Castellanos trains independent specialists in various areas. The staff she trains conducts hearing screens in schools and screenings for newborns in hospitals. Children and babies with hearing loss are provided with hearing aids. The hearing aids are adjusted on-site or the children are referred to the clinic to receive a more detailed diagnosis after further testing.
In addition, the team conducts hearing screenings throughout the country, traveling for several days at a time through the regions. Word spreads when the team is in the region.
Red hearing aid with football stickers for Jonathan de Jesús
In September, Sonova volunteers traveled with Sonrisas que Escuchan staff through the Sololá region in the southwestern Guatemalan highlands to various schools to conduct hearing screenings. Word spreads, and on the third day a mother arrived at the school with a 4-year old boy, whom she suspected of having hearing loss. The hearing tests confirmed her suspicions and the team was able to fit him right away with two new Phonak hearing aids. Jonathan de Jesús chose red hearing aids with football stickers. The team produced temporary ear molds for Jonathan – the regional team will bring him the permanent ear molds the next time they visit, which will be produced by the Sonrisas que Escuchan staff in the laboratory in Guatemala City.
Hearing protection for shop class
The children at the school “Escuela Experimental Villa de los Niños” in Guatemala City are often exposed to loud noise during shop class. There is also a woodcutting machine in the work room. To prevent the noise from damaging these children’s hearing, the Guatemalan organization Sonrisas que Escuchan has donated hearing protection for the children. Noise-induced hearing loss had already been detected in some of the children beforehand. In future, with the new hearing protection, the children will be able to obtain important manual skills without endangering their hearing in the process.