Hearing the Call to Help Deaf Children in Mexico

Hearing the Call to Help Deaf Children in Mexico
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.7

     challenging words:    brays, helping, landmines, silver-studded, wide-brimmed, finest, emotional, malnourished, mentally, malnutrition, arrival, medical, pregnant, affected, surrounding, stress

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Hearing the Call to Help Deaf Children in Mexico
By Colleen Messina

1     On a warm day in 1991, seven-year old Gabriella dressed in her Sunday clothes. Her family traveled far from their isolated village. She traveled in the finest accommodations that the family could afford: their cranky, gray donkey stepped briskly along the dirt road. His loud brays announced their arrival in Oaxaca, Mexico. Unfortunately, Gabriella could not hear them.
2     Gabriella traveled far so that she could visit Dr. Micken. The American audiologist was in Oaxaca. His mission was to help hearing-impaired children. An audiologist is a doctor who treats people who have hearing loss. Dr. Micken was fitting children with hearing aides so that they could hear normally at last. Gabriella's face had an expression of wonder when she heard music for the first time.
3     Dr. Micken always wanted to make a difference in the world. He decided that helping poor children who had hearing problems was an excellent way to do that. Gabriella was his first patient. Soon, other children traveled to Oaxaca from remote villages to see the doctor. They came from poor families. Their problems could easily be solved with hearing aides, but they had never had the chance to see a doctor before. They were very glad to meet Dr. Micken. He gave hearing aides to 89 children.
4     Dr. Micken also worked with poor communities in the surrounding areas to educate them about hearing. He tested people's hearing. He taught them how to prevent damage to their auditory systems. He taught them about the causes of hearing loss. His wife also helped him with his work. He saw what a big difference a small hearing aide could make for the children.
5     Children like Gabriella used to be considered mentally deficient. That was because no one knew how to help them in their small, poor villages. Gabriella was a bright child, but no one in her village realized it until she had a hearing aide. She could finally attend school, and she did very well. Other children's lives changed, too. They became more outgoing. They felt hopeful about their futures.

Paragraphs 6 to 13:
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Extended Activities:

1.  Have a friend blindfold you and spend one half hour with the blindfold on. Ask your friend to help you so that you do not get hurt! Then, write a description of what it was like to be "blind." Did this exercise give you a new appreciation for someone with disabilities? What else did you learn from this experiment?

2.  Pretend that you are a donkey salesperson with a stable full of eager, frisky donkeys. You now have the opportunity to donate a donkey to a family so that they can make a trip to see Dr. Micken. What kind of temperament would you want your donkey with this special mission to have? Write a description of the perfect gift donkey for a disabled person, and draw a picture of your special donkey. Be sure to name your donkey!

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