Lindo sat alone at the table as the small group of visitors entered the Welcome Centre. As Ruth Boys, who was conducting the tour, introduced her to the group, Lindo hugged Ruth and grinned from ear to ear. Her eyes darted from the floor to the group and back to the floor again as she shimmied in her chair displaying a bit of uneasiness. Despite her shyness – she never uttered a word – the smile never left Lindo’s face.

It was obvious there was something extra special about Lindo. Ruth went on to explain that Lindo has a hearing impairment and learning disabilities. It was in that moment when a heart connection was made. Monique van Haaren was among the group of visitors that day, and she knows all too well what it’s like to have a hearing impairment. She’s been deaf since she was a little girl but, with the help of hearing aids, she can hear sounds she would otherwise never hear. After Monique returned to the Netherlands, she couldn’t get Lindo out of her mind. “What if she could hear?” she often wondered. “What if I could help her to hear?”

Monique learned that Lindo’s hearing impairment was nearly identical to the type of hearing loss she had suffered as a child. All at once, her mission became clear. She worked with a team in Bulembu to prepare a mould of Lindo’s ears and then took the moulds to a facility in her town where the same settings as Monique’s hearing aids were used in making Lindo’s.

Lindo now has her own hearing aids and is, perhaps for the first time in her life hearing the laughter of the other children, raindrops tapping on the window, cars motoring down the street, and even her own voice. The hearing aids will undoubtedly help her continue to learn how to live independently although it’s unlikely she’ll be able to live alone. The 18-year-old loves to work in her vegetable garden and enjoys art and Friday night youth group. She continues to live in the Welcome Centre where she will likely stay. The social workers who interact with her have said the hearing aids have made a tremendous difference in her communication skills allowing for even more improvements in socializing, which can be a tremendous challenge for someone who is learning to adjust to a new world of sounds.

Monique’s desire for Lindo is that she is able to hear music and learn what listening to music can do for her. Music is what opened the door for Monique to come to Bulembu. And her hope is to be able to return to Bulembu so she can finally hear Lindo’s voice and so that Lindo can hear the voice of the one who helped her hear.

By: Theresia Whitfield