As supporters of Escuela de Educacion Especial we are reminded daily of the optimism and resilience of each of the special young people we serve. It soon became apparent that beside the fact that these children had been dealt a tough hand with their deafness, they also faced many other challenges. Most of the students at the school are from families with poor financial circumstances and some live in communities outside of the city, including rural areas, which makes it even more difficult and expensive for them to make the trip into town to attend this school for special education. As a result of these two factors alone, many students have not attained the grade level you would expect of their ages. There are other factors that make many of their lives even more challenging. One of these being a lack of emotional support at home. For various reasons, there is often an inability or lack of commitment from family members to learn Mexican Sign Language themselves and consequently they cannot communicate with their deaf child on a meaningful level; in fact, in the majority of cases no one in the household knows any sign language. I can hardly imagine how difficult it must be to be unable to communicate with one’s own parents or siblings! Other parents are often unable to accept deafness in their child without attaching blame or guilt to themselves or others which creates anger and resentment. This further erodes the child’s self esteem. However, it is through opportunities offered at EEE that each child can learn to their best ability, gain further independence, and ultimately learn a skill in which they can excel.
Opportunities for deaf students, in the form of scholarships, have been made possible through the generous gifts of donors like you. Through this project and over the past three months, funds have been raised to offer six scholarships. During this same period of time, the school has welcomed five new students, so we have a lot more work to do! We are confident that it is possible to offer many more deaf children in our community the chance to improve their lives in significant ways. Apart from learning sign language and obtaining a better education, a scholarship at EEE allows each student to be a part of a “deaf community”; a community of other children who are like them; people who can, literally, understand them and who will provide the social interaction and positive role modeling necessary to help rebuild their self-esteem.
And this is the story of one student who recently benefited from a scholarship…
Any 17 year old lad would be excited about the possibilities of what the future might offer him, and Fernando is no exception! Although a shy fellow with a very low level of hearing, his sweet personality shines through his eyes and through his smile the moment he greets you. He explained to his teacher through sign language “my favorite things about school are learning to better read and write” and he further signed “I want to learn more sign so that I can talk better with my friends at school”. He added “I like to exercise and I wash cars on the street to make some money”. Fernando dreams of continuing his education through high school, and although he is currently reading at a grade 2 level, we encourage him to pursue his dream. He added “I would like to train to be a cook or a carpenter”. He also explained that should the opportunity of any sort of regular paying job present itself, he would jump at the opportunity to become self-sufficient. His home life is not a happy one (no one in his family can communicate with him in sign language) and we are concerned he may become a youth at risk should he turn to a life on the streets. To help secure a more promising future for Fernando, we intend to help him stay in school to better his education and to receive valuable job training skills…we can do no less!