Many of you are familiar with the story of the two deaf children who live in our village. Those of you who have not heard this story, read a post here or here to fill yourself in. Anyone who has visited our village knows A-Paw, 8, is the younger of the two siblings. She is a beautiful and truly remarkable child. She is so smart and has a personality that just lights up a room. Her older brother, A-Wa, 15, is a handsome young man with a lot of confidence and potential, as well as a certain knack for getting into mischief.
Unlike many deaf children in America, these two have very little opportunity for "success". Without any method of communication (they have had very little exposure to sign language) they have no opportunity to succeed in school (the Thai / modern definition of success) and very little opportunity to find someone to marry (the Akha / premodern definition of success).
The, in June 2009, we were honored and blessed to host Kristin & Dave - who came halfway around the world just to be a blessing to this family. Kristin is an audiologist and is currently working for the Denver Public School system. They not only brought the expertise to diagnose these kids, but they also brought first class equipment and top of the line hearing aids which had been donated to give to this family!
It was an extraordinary experience to see these two children hear for the first time ever. Both children have very minimal hearing, so much so that if you were standing right next to them, yelling their names... they wouldn't hear you. But with the hearing aids they could hear even quietly spoken words!
After being fitted with her aids, we "spied" on A-paw as she was tried them out on the real world. She went outside, and was standing 50 meters from some of her friends who were playing with a bamboo stick by hitting it on the ground. As she heard the hollow, echoing sound of bamboo floating across the distance, her eyes grew wide and she looked back at us in amazement as if to say "Hey... that makes an incredible sound!"
We are so grateful for the opportunity that has been given to these kids. We know that the path will not be an easy one, as special needs education cases are largely ignored in rural Thailand. Also adding to the difficulty is the significant cultural and emotional adjustment as a child goes from a silent world to an audible one. We are hoping to get them some speech therapy (we might even do it ourselves if need be!) and help them to catch up in school, but these things will take time and patience.
Through this experience, however, we are again reminded and awestruck by the way our God lavishes his love upon the poor and the needy.