Overcoming the Odds to Help Juan Speak When 5-year old Juan first came to the SOS Children’s Village Cochabamba, Bolivia, he could barely speak. His new SOS Mother, Nancy, took him under her wing and got to work creating a loving, supportive home for him—just like she would do for any of her children. After medical check ups, Juan was diagnosed with severe hearing loss in his left ear and moderate hearing loss in his right, the result of untreated illness in early childhood. Hearing and speech go hand-in-hand, and children only have until age 8 to learn how to speak. With only 3 years to go until Juan would reach this development milestone, Nancy took immediate action so her son would not spend his whole life unable to communicate. She met with experts to learn more about the best way to help Juan. She secured specialized training that is rarely available in this part of Bolivia. She spent almost a year learning techniques to teach Juan how to use sign language and speak. An important part of the SOS Children’s Villages program is the love and support children receive from their brothers and sisters. Nancy wanted to make sure that Juan understood that he was an important part of the family. So she taught each of the children in their home how to sign. Today, Juan and his family are able to converse through sign language, and his speech and pronunciation are getting better every day. His reading and writing skills are also improving rapidly. He looks forward to the letters he receives from his sponsor so many miles away. Most Bolivian children with hearing loss are not as fortunate as Juan. Almost half of the 600,000 Bolivians living with disabilities are illiterate, and many face terrible discrimination and neglect. Because of Nancy’s loving dedication, the support of his Village, and the SOS family around the world, Juan is thriving and his future looks bright. Names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved. Please click here if you would like to sponsor a child today.