At 15, Roman could say six words. An ear infection early in life had damaged his hearing. Despite his parents’ best efforts, including a monk’s treatment (exorcism), and a brief stay at a too-expensive school for hearing-impaired children, Roman had been unable to overcome the barrier that separated him from the world.
In Bangladesh, about two million people suffer from hearing impairment. It is often caused by malnutrition, marriage between close relatives, untreated ear infections and high fever from certain diseases, including typhoid.
Lacking opportunity to communicate and learn, hearing-impaired children become isolated from their families and socially ostracized, typically remaining unemployed.
Though hope for a better life rests largely upon building communication ability for hearing-impaired children and providing them with education, there is a shortage of specialized schools to meet their need.
In 2003, we stepped in to help with Hear Project. In three Bangladesh locations, Mymensingh, Barisal and Savar, 110 children between the ages of two and 15 are taught to speak, read and write by specially trained teachers.
With the help of hearing aids, children begin learning to speak as they hear their own voices. We also train parents to support their hearing-impaired children more knowledgably.
Roman can speak in complete sentences now. His teachers, watching him study at the third-grade level, are preparing to transition him into a regular classroom setting, fulfilling the project’s ultimate goal. Hearing aids, communication skills, education—a whole new world for children like Roman.
World Concern also operates audiology centers to provide hearing assessments and consultation to people with hearing impairments. Over 1,000 hearing-impaired people are provided with clinical audiology screenings and advice each year.