By Brooke Gazer
Dante Allier Martinez is one happy little boy. Even though he was born without ears he has always been a cheerful, well-adjusted child. His parents, who take good care of him in Santa Maria Huatulco, never tried to hide his deformity by growing his hair to cover the missing parts. They have taught him to accept himself the way he is but this does interfere with wanting him to live a normal life.
Dante was born with Bilateral Microtia, a rare condition which affects about 1 in 5-7 thousand births. These children are born either with severely deformed ears or without ears altogether. Fifteen percent of these children are also missing the ear canal and Dante is one of the more severe cases; entirely without ears or ear canal. He does have an ear drum and inner ear so hearing is a possibility. He has been fitted with a special device that is worn like a head band and sends signals both through the skull and just behind the space where the ear should be. Amazingly this apparatus allows him to hear more or less normally. Dante has had this device since he was six months old but even though they treat it like gold its potential has diminished with daily use over the years. Eventually he will have corrective surgery but at five he is not sufficiently developed and he needs a new hearing device.
UNA (Un Nuevo Amanecer) helps a large number of hearing impaired children and through DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, –Integral Development of the Family, a government organization to help families in need) in Oaxaca many children receive simple hearing aids free of charge.
However, the more complex device worn by Dante is not provided and both UNA and Dante’s parents were concerned as to how they would be able to acquire a new hearing aid for the boy. They had recently received a quote for $18,000 pesos (about $1500.USD), which for both the parents and this struggling non-profit charity was an enormous sum.
On Febuary 4, UNA held a benefit concert at Latitude 15 Beach Club where a total of $113, 575 pesos was raised. Most of these funds will be put toward keeping this deserving charity afloat for the next three months. In addition to the entrance and drinks, funds were raised by auctioning donated items and tickets were sold for a 50/50 draw. The winners of the draw were a group from Bonneville, Alberta, Canada. The total “pot” from the draw totaled $14,910 pesos and this small group from the frozen north was entitled to half. They could have had quite a party with the proceeds but instead they generously donated their entire winnings to UNA.
With both halves of the draw, UNA is able to make it possible for little Dante to get his new hearing devise. He leaves on Febuary 24 for Mexico City where he will be fitted. Dante is always a happy little guy but his smile just got a bit broader, and so did his parents’.
Brooke Gazer owns a bed and breakfast, Agua Azul la Villa, in Huatulco http://www.bbaguaazul.com