Project - Las Voces del Silencio

Friends of the Deaf/Las Voces del Silencio

See our updated report on the project completion.

I love you, in GSLLas Voces del Silencio, run through the Friends of the Deaf, is a school in Antigua, Guatemala which currently serves about 15 children, with more arriving daily.

Deaf children in Guatemala suffer great discrimination both individually and culturally. Few attend school and many are hidden away as they are considered a shame to the family. LAVOSI opened in January with two students. There are now 15 students and the love and the skill that the teachers offer the students is beginning to be noticed by the community.

In Guatemala there are an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 men, women and children (out of a total population of about 14 million) with hearing deficiencies. Many of these people are born hearing and lose this sense through malnutrition or disease. The Guatemalan government does not have the resources to help fund organizations such as LAVOSI. The public education system of Guatemala makes no provisions to address the needs of this group and children are sent to school with no provision, at times without even notification to the school, that they are deaf. The few private schools in the country cannot address the needs of a population this large and are often prohibitive cost-wise.

From the moment the students enter the school they find a beautiful, spacious facility and are greeted with the smiles and hugs that give them a sense of belonging that they don’t find in many other places. At LAVOSI services are free and open to all regardless of financial status, religious affiliation or social status.

learning to read Clifford At LAVOSI there are elementary classes (language, social studies, mathematics, sign language, etc.) to the deaf children Monday through Friday. Also offered are vocational training in the basic and fine arts, Guatemalan crafts, manual arts, general homemaking, baking, culinary arts and basic and advanced computer training. Parents are highly encouraged to attend the Parent Information and Training classes. They are taught the Guatemalan Sign Language so that they can communicate more effectively. They are also taught that having a deaf child is a blessing and not something to grieve or something of which to be ashamed.

The teachers, currently all of whom are deaf, work for no salary; all monies made go to paying the rent so that the school can stay in the wonderful space that they have which is accessible to the bus line and to town. Their largest need is to find a steady revevnue for the rent and pay an elementary school teacher to come on board.

Forix's grant will be used to pay for 2 elementary school teachers, which will address the needs of the children, some of whom are older teenagers but have never learned the basics of elementary school. These 2 teachers will bring the children not just up to speed within the deaf community but will provide them with the basic reading, writing and math skills to get along in the world they will encounter as adults.