Serving the street children of Guatemala City
How the Project Started
In 2008, Dr. Sandra Clark-Lewis, Clinical Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, was invited to Guatemala City through the Secretary of Social Services and at the request of the wife of the Mayor of Guatemala City (and former First Lady of Guatemala), Patricia Arzu, to discuss providing hearing screenings for 1500 of the poorest children in the city. In Guatemala City, there are a significant number of children who, in order to survive, work on the streets during the day and therefore are unable to attend a traditional school. To help these children, Mrs. Arzu established three schools in Guatemala City. These schools provide teachers and lessons, as well as two meals a day. The schools also attempt to attend to the medical needs of these children, but the professional resources of this country are limited. In addition to the schools, Mrs. Arzu established daycare centers for approximately 1000 children from the ages birth to 6 years. There are children of the urban underclass in Guatemala City and most of these children would likely not become productive citizens without the care of these centers.
In 2009, Dr. Clark-Lewis was awarded a $14,749 grant from the Auburn University Office of Outreach for her project " Auburn Audiology Outreach in Guatemala" and an additional $3,800 from the College of Liberal Arts. This money was used to purchase testing equipment and to send Dr. Clark-Lewis and six Auburn University Audiology doctoral students to Guatemala to complete testing in August 2009. In addition to the grant, Dr. Martha Miller, Auburn University Alumna, and GN Resound representative, acquired 40 digital hearing aids to fit on the Guatemalan children who were identified with an educationally significant hearing impairment.
How the Project Has Grown
Since the original trip in 2009, Auburn audiology doctoral students, audiology faculty, and audiology alumni have traveled annually to Guatemala City to provide hearing tests and other audiological services to the street children of Guatemala. Since Guatemalan school personnel were trained to conduct hearing screenings during the first trip, they administer yearly hearing screenings to the 1800 children enrolled in their schools. On the subsequent trips, the Auburn University personnel have administered audiological testing to the children who failed the hearing screening and delivered hearing aids to all children who experienced and educationally significant hearing loss.
To date, twenty three audiology doctoral students and five audiology alumni have traveled with Dr. Clark-Lewis to Guatemala to serve these children. To see the daily reports from the annual trips, check out our blog posts below. We are looking forward to our next trip in May 2014.
This last August the Audiology Program at Auburn University celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the admission of the first class of doctoral students. Although there are many differences between doctoral level training and the training received by students in our masters degree program, there are even more similarities. Over the years academic and clinical faculty have not only prepared our graduates to meet the ever-rising demands of the profession, but have also attempted to instill in…Continue
Posted by Kelli Watts on November 21, 2013 at 1:54pm
I write this final blog for our 2013 trip to Guatemala the morning after our return on Saturday night. It is Mother’s Day, and I must say that I have mothers on my mind! As you can see from previous blogs during our whole week in Guatemala we have watched children preparing for their Mother’s Day programs. In addition I have listened to our doctoral students talk about their mothers and buy mother’s day gifts, and I have had almost…Continue
Posted by Emma Rice on July 16, 2013 at 3:40pm
Today, Mothers' Day in Guatemala, was our last day of work. We arrived at the empty School for the Deaf bright and early (The children were out so they could spend the day with their moms), but it didn't take long before children who needed our services arrived anyway. They, nor their nor their moms minded giving up their holiday to receive the gift of hearing.
Many of the children we see at the school for the deaf are…
Posted by Kelli Watts on May 10, 2013 at 10:39pm
Hola from Zona Viva…The Zone of Life…and have we experienced that this week. As we embarked on Day 4 of testing, but our first day at the School for the Deaf, we were all excited yet as prepared as possible to expect the unexpected. As our loyal driver Hugo arrived promptly at 7:30am to take us to work, we were surprised that all seven of us, along with ALL of our equipment had to be escorted there in a Suzuki SUV…if we were not close before this morning we quickly became inseparable. Our…Continue
Posted by Kelli Watts on May 10, 2013 at 7:07am