The Republic of Nicaragua is located in Central America, south of Honduras and north of Costa Rica, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east. It is the largest country in Central America with 46,000 sq km and a population of over 6 million.
It’s a country of natural beauty and yet poverty unknown to most of us. It is a country of many natural resources but lacking in so many basic healthcare provisions. Literacy levels are low, with only 65% of the population over age 15 being able to read and write.
It is estimated that 10% of the Nicaraguan population has a severe to profound hearing loss, pointing to a count of 600,000 people.
Those with handicapping conditions such as hearing loss most often drop out of school, or worse are bullied and laughed out of school. Adults with hearing loss, like everyone with a hearing problem, will misunderstand, miscommunicate, and seemingly ignore those speaking with them. People often misinterpret their irregular responses as being rude or stupid. Those that do get through school are at risk of misunderstanding sometimes very important information. The stigma of hearing loss is unlike other handicapping conditions because it is hidden. In fact, it is often referred to as the “Hidden Handicap” and leaves a deep scar on individuals and their families.
The deaf population in a country can vary widely depending on how you define hearing loss but it is estimated that 10% of the Nicaraguan population has a severe to profound hearing loss, pointing to a count of 600,000 people. When adding those with a moderate hearing loss this number is expected to climb substantially.
I want to give mothers hope that their children will be able to attend school and learn to read and write. I want to give hope to those that struggle keeping employed because they can’t hear instructions or alarms. I want to help families get past the stigma of hearing loss.
I want to educate people that hearing loss doesn’t make a person ignorant or unable to learn. I want to show them that hearing better is the start of a better life. I want to encourage sign language when necessary and that the deaf community can be educated and become productive members in society.
Our small group of 9 will leave on July 25 and return August 2. We would appreciate your thoughts and prayers. We are still accepting donations. Our goal is to fit 40 hearing aids during this trip which will include batteries, cases, cleaning kits, Spanish User’s guides, and a place to go in case they have trouble.
We are excited and will share all the fun upon our return!
Dr. Becky Donnelly,