Guatemala | Human Stories | Travel the world with us


A journey through the world of sound

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.

Patricia Castellanos
Guatemala City, Guatemala, 21 September 2018

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So proud to be Mayan

My name is Carlos Miguel Garcia. I was born and raised in a village near Totonicapan. My ancestors have been farmers and craftsmen from generation to generation, and I, too, make my living this way. We grow and sell corn, which is our main nutritional source. We also make tortillas from corn for both ourselves and commercial purposes. Besides agriculture, we make textile products with a special kind of tailoring that we learned from our Mayan ancestors, and we sell them at the local bazaar. By this way, we are able to continue an ancient tradition, and we also make money for both our living and the education of our children.

As a Quitche Maya, I am proud of my roots. Even today, especially in the villages, Mayan people speak their own language instead of Spanish.

Years ago, after a two month long adventure, I reached the U.S.A. by land. I lived there for 5 years as an immigrant, and I learned English. Afterwards I returned to my homeland, and I continue to live here with my family. We live in a typical village house, and sometimes we rent it to the tourists from Airbnb.

I also continue to farm, but nowadays they have been trying to ban the usage of our traditional corn seeds with Monsanto's pressure on the government. We, as local farmers, try to stand up for our rights with strikes and various demonstrations.

Carlos Miguel Garcia
Totonicapan, Guatemala, 25 September 2018

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I hear you

My name is Julian. I am 9 years old. I was born as hearing impaired. Today, I heard for the first time in my life when a hearing device was put in my ears. I am very happy.

Guatemala City, Guatemala, 19 September 2018

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