Feb 20, 2015

Little Miguel

A lively little boy
A lively little boy

On a bright sunny morning last September, while all were busily working away at the school, we were visited by a young mother from a small rural community some miles outside of San Miguel de Allende. She told us she had walked a long distance on a dirt road from her community to the highway to catch a bus to come to the special school for children who are not able to hear, or “sordos” as they are known in Mexico. She had learned about the school from a friend and arrived with a great deal of hope in her heart thinking “Would it be at all possible for the school to help my son, Miguelito, who is deaf?” Miguelito came with his mother to the school that day and although he was five years old, he seemed much younger; he was small for his age, very shy, actually a little withdrawn, and appeared quite unsure as to whether he wanted to be in this strange place. He clung to his mother and was frightened to even leave her side. His mother explained to us that Miguelito was born a hearing child and suddenly at the age of two, after he had been ill, she realized that he had become deaf. Miguelito had been turned away from the village preschool and spent most days home alone with his mother, in a world of silence with no other children with whom to play.

We thought we would introduce Miguelito to the other preschool children to see if they would gain his confidence. After giving him time to relax and enjoy playing with blocks and small cars and trucks, his eyes soon lit up; showing that unmistakable childish joy. He made fast friends with five year olds Maria and Dylan. His mother knew now that he would be very comfortable attending this special school, that he would be accepted here, and he would learn important things and would have fun with other children his age, other children who were also deaf like him.

Unfortunately it wasn’t always possible for Miguelito to attend school on a regular basis. The family’s income would not stretch far enough to cover bus fares for his mother to bring him to school most days. The school helped when it could while a donor to provide a yearly scholarship was sought. During the time he was able to attend, Miguelito blossomed, was very obviously happy learning basic Mexican sign language and was well adjusted to his new school environment... then, unfortunately, illness struck once again.

Miguelito started to experience bone pain, eye and ear problems and tumors showed under his skin. After much testing, and weeks and weeks of x-rays and scans, it was learned that Miguelito had Histiocytosis, a rare immune disorder. His immune cells were mistakenly attacking his body, rather than helping his body to fight infection. In order to get better little Miguelito would need to receive chemotherapy treatment once a month for a full year in a hospital in the nearby city of Leon. His family is very determined to proceed with the recommended treatments which are paid by state-sponsored health care but they are struggling to find funds to pay for transport, out-of-town accommodation costs, as well as paying for some of the specialized medicine required during his treatment.


It is the sincere wish of all those at Escuela de Educacion Especial de San Miguel de Allende to have Miguelito return to school one day soon, when he is physically well of course, so that he too can benefit from the education programs offered here. Following his treatments, which we are all confident will be successful, we will do our best to secure a full scholarship for Miguelito through this Global Giving project. Doesn’t every child deserve the opportunity to learn, to grow and to experience the joy of friendships made at school?

Big smile
Big smile
Miguelito in hospital
Miguelito in hospital

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Nov 25, 2014

Fernando's Story

Fernando and guitar
Fernando and guitar

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 benefitted 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!

 

 

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Sep 15, 2014

We Are Now Participating Partners With GG!

Miguel, Maria and Dylan enjoying outside playtime
Miguel, Maria and Dylan enjoying outside playtime

At the half-way mark of the September Open Challenge we are happy to announce that we have reached our initial goal of $5,000 and 40 unique donors! As a matter of fact, we have surpassed it! We are proud to let you know that Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende has met all of the conditions necessary to become a full fledged participating partner of Global Giving, allowing us to continue to raise awareness and funds on the Global Giving site in the months to come. We are very grateful to you for helping to make this accomplishment possible. We are still working hard to win a bonus prize and think we have a good shot at winning at least one before the end of the month. And of course, we still have a ways to go to reach our full project goal which is to fund scholarships for all of our students; we have momentum and are well on our way.

The most exciting aspect of all this is knowing that some of the much needed funds raised through Global Giving will help us immensely in reaching out to more deaf children and their families who live in surrounding rural communities of San Miguel. Most of these families live in low income circumstances and many find it impossible to come up with the money neccesary to pay for bus transportation to bring their children to the school on a regular basis. Such was the case with some new students who joined us when the fall term began on August 18th. They are three new preschoolers, Miguel, aged 5, Maria, also aged 5 and Angel aged 2. This is the first time these three children have been given the opportunity to learn Mexican Sign Language, interact with others outside their home environment and best of all begin receiving a curriculum based education. Your donation will now give Miguel, Maria and Angel, amongst others, the ability to attend school on a daily basis, something that until now has been beyond their family's means.

We count our blessings for the support we have received so far and hope that others like you will join in to help us build a future for these very special children. We will continue to provide updates and reports on a regular basis on both the progress of the project and the continued development of the San Miguel School for Special Education serving deaf children, youth and young adults who have a thirst for knowledge and a huge desire to become independent, contributing members of their community.

Angel and Dylan with teacher, Carla
Angel and Dylan with teacher, Carla
Maria enjoying her school lunch
Maria enjoying her school lunch

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