I'm Patricia Castellanos; Guatemalan at heart. I educate hearing-impaired people as an audiologist. Thanks to my academic background, I can help these people professionally.
Through La Fundación Sonrisas que Escuchan (The Smiles that Listen Foundation), I have learned a lot about the people who are living in poverty in Guatemala. I have also met so many wonderful people:
Maria is 1 year old. She has not started to talk yet, and her parents still don't know that she can't hear. If they don't act quickly, Maria could never learn to speak and develop her cognitive potential. Her academic performance will be greatly affected.
José is repeating first grade in elementary school; it has been very difficult for him to learn how to read and write. His parents don't know that José suffers from a moderate hearing loss which makes it difficult for him to separate the sounds of some letters.
Francisco listens to his grandchildren, but doesn't understand everything that they say. So they can't enjoy spending time together as much.
There are many “Marias”, “Joses” and “Franciscos” hoping to have better treatment opportunities about their hearing disorders. Finding them has been a long and sometimes lonely journey.
Today, we have come a long way with the help of human resources who we have trained - audiologists from other countries and international organizations. We started a baby screening program, we have tested more than 25.000 school age students and fitted more than 6.000 hearing aids, and training courses have been offered to parents of hearing-impaired children. We have also formed audiometric technicians as a profession, and created jobs.
My job is the best! I live in a country which has many challenges, but is of an incomparable beauty and wonderful people. The journey through the world of sound seems to be endless; however, helping to improve the quality of life of a person allows me to sleep peacefully and create new ideas and better dreams.
Guatemala City, Guatemala, 21 September 2018