Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Steven Reed, a current squad leader on the World Race. He and his squad are serving in India this month, but this post is from Steven’s time in Bolivia.
I was born with 75% hearing loss and have worn a hearing aid in my right ear since I was 6 months old. I had two ear reconstructive surgeries when I was younger to make it possible to wear a hearing aid. My parents recognized early on that I had a hearing disability and because they took such important steps to make sure I got the help I needed early on, I can speak normally and live a normal lifestyle today. I have never been hindered by this disability, and honestly, I don’t even think of it as a disability or even notice it. Most people don’t even know I have one (this could be in part to my shaggy hair, which isn’t getting a bit out of control after 3 months without a haircut). My parents’ love and wisdom with me when I was a child opened up the sounds of the world for me, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Not everyone has the opportunities I had.
David is 4 years old. When he was a baby and toddler his mother used to tie him to a bedpost while she went to work because she didn’t know how to take care of him. She thought he was mentally challenged. She couldn’t take him to work because she couldn’t control him or communicate with him. David had been abused and malnourished when he was discovered by neighbors, who took him to a social worker. He didn’t have parents who loved him or knew what was wrong with him, so he suffered their abuse. David never had a chance.
David is deaf.
I met David yesterday at one at an orphanage for the deaf here in Cochabamba and immediately took a liking to him. All this kid would do was smile at me, hug me, and play with my RayBan sunglasses. He had so much joy in him, was so sweet, and I wondered why anyone would give him up. When I heard his story it broke my heart. Seriously, who would do those things to such a sweet kid? His story immediately touched me in a personal way; I could relate to him, even if it was just a little bit.
I couldn’t let go of David, and for the hour we were there we played on the swingset, him in my lap. We climbed up to the top of the slides and slid down; I helped him across monkey bars. I was able to love David, and he was able to love me. It broke my heart that maybe David won’t ever know what it’s like to have parents love him.