Home>Engagement>Aid Projects>South America>Guatemala: Colorful hearing aids for children

Guatemala is the most populated country in Central America. Audiological care in the country, however, is very limited – there is only one audiologist in all of Guatemala: Paty Castellanos. She is the founder of the “Sonrisas que Escuchan” foundation (smiles who listen). Hear the World supports this organization with donations of hearing aids and volunteers.

Place & Year

Guatemala since 2014


Technology Funding Knowledge

Main Focus

Children Providing audiological care for children in low-income countries is a focal area of the Hear the World Foundation’s activities.
Professional training The Hear the World Foundation supports projects that enable continuous audiological training for professionals on site.
Prevention of hearing loss The Hear the World Foundation globally promotes awareness for the topics of hearing and hearing loss and thus actively contributes toward the prevention of hearing loss.
Programs for parents & families By supporting self-help groups for parents, the Hear the World Foundation makes an important contribution, thus ensuring that affected parents receive specific help and assistance.

The “Sonrisas que Escuchan” foundation has conducted hearing screenings throughout Guatemala for around nine years and also supplies hearing aids to those who could otherwise not afford them. The donation from Hear the World will make it possible to supply more children with high-quality hearing aids.

Capacity building and hearing screenings throughout the country

Paty Castellanos trains independent specialists in various areas. The staff she trains conducts hearing screens in schools and screenings for newborns in hospitals. Children and babies with hearing loss are provided with hearing aids. The hearing aids are adjusted on-site or the children are referred to the clinic to receive a more detailed diagnosis after further testing.

In addition, the team conducts hearing screenings throughout the country, traveling for several days at a time through the regions. Word spreads when the team is in the region.

Red hearing aid with football stickers for Jonathan de Jesús

In September, Sonova volunteers traveled with Sonrisas que Escuchan staff through the Sololá region in the southwestern Guatemalan highlands to various schools to conduct hearing screenings. Word spreads, and on the third day a mother arrived at the school with a 4-year old boy, whom she suspected of having hearing loss. The hearing tests confirmed her suspicions and the team was able to fit him right away with two new Phonak hearing aids. Jonathan de Jesús chose red hearing aids with football stickers. The team produced temporary ear molds for Jonathan – the regional team will bring him the permanent ear molds the next time they visit, which will be produced by the Sonrisas que Escuchan staff in the laboratory in Guatemala City.

We had a long waiting list with children who urgently needed a hearing aid. Unfortunately, the families did not have any money to buy hearing aids and we did not have any appropriate devices that we could have given to the children for free. The support from Hear the World Foundation means that we can finally provide these children with high-quality hearing aids.»
Paty Castellanos

Hearing protection for shop class

The children at the school “Escuela Experimental Villa de los Niños” in Guatemala City are often exposed to loud noise during shop class. There is also a woodcutting machine in the work room. To prevent the noise from damaging these children’s hearing, the Guatemalan organization Sonrisas que Escuchan has donated hearing protection for the children. Noise-induced hearing loss had already been detected in some of the children beforehand. In future, with the new hearing protection, the children will be able to obtain important manual skills without endangering their hearing in the process.