During Isaiah Baier’s charitable trip to Guatemala, the Lubbock 12-year-old got to see first-hand why the hearing health of Guatemala is in desperate need of help.
The volunteers from Sonrisas Que Escuchan [Smiles That Listen], Sonova’s Hear the World Foundation, and Isaiah visited a school in Antigua offering hearing screenings for each student.
“I take this as paying back to society what I have taken,” said Dr. Oscar Terraza Calderon, an ENT and volunteer with Sonrisas Que Escuchan.
Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America and there is only one audiologist, Dr. Patricia Castellanos, which means the ear care is severely lacking.
Dr. Castellanos, CEDAF Audiologist, Sonrisas Que Escuchan Founder, said no one in Guatemala is offering these types of services for the poor communities.
“I’m here to give a part of myself to help in any situation that I’m needed in,” said Juan Carlos Carcuz, a Sonrisas Que Escuchan Volunteer. “In this case, I came here to help the kids and maintain order so that everything is accomplished.”
Among the 300 kids that go to the particular school in Antigua, Dr. Terraza said he expects about 5 percent to have some sort of problems with their ears.
“Problems that they had were related to wax-impactation, there were some wax, and some others had infections in the ears and several have foreign bodies in the ear canals,” Terraza said.
Sonova’s Hear the World Foundation brought three audiologist volunteers to the country to get to work with the kids.
“They are very grateful for everything and just like a small gift, like a sticker, they’re so happy about it,” said Philipe Hintze Alzate, he’s an audiologist from Germany.
Philipe said volunteer work like this reminds him of how important it is to get your ears checked.
“These are the best moments. To giving back. Life quality,” Hintze Alzate said.
Juan Carlos Carcuz, 18, said the Sonrisas Que Escuchan Foundation has helped him tremendously by giving him hearing aids.
“I am able to pay attention and have even begun to go to University as a college student,” said Carcuz. Carcuz lost his hearing when he was 10 years old. “With time I got used to them and now I can’t live without them. I wake up and the first thing I do is put them on.”
Dr. Castellanos said she thinks a handful of the kids at the school will need hearing aids, like Juan Carlos.
“The reality in the United States is completely different to us,” Castellanos said. “I’m not saying ours is bad, but it’s completely different.”
Juan Carlos now volunteers with Sonrisas Que Escuchan to help the people who helped him.
“I want to do well in life and I am doing it. In spite of the difficulties of living with a hearing aid, I do not see it as an obstacle in my life,” Carcuz said.
“I invite anyone who wants to come to support our mission,” Castellanos said. “We will take very good care of them and they will enjoy this and the gift of love.”
KLBK News would like to thank the Baier family for allowing us to tell their story. Thank you to Sonova’s Hear the World Foundation for allowing this coverage to be possible.
You can find Sonova’s website here.
You can find the Hear the World Foundation’s website here.
If you want to buy Isaiah’s book, you can purchase the book here for $10.00.