Holding Onto Hope

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My name is Yonjandri and I am 28 years old. I live in Bermejal, Baracoa City.  I became deaf after an illness soon after birth.  My father is an alcoholic and when I was born, my parents gave me to my grandmother to take care of me because my home situation was not good.

When my grandmother died, my mom took me back. My father forced me to work for him, doing odd jobs for others to earn money so he can drink.  He was also very abusive.  After awhile, I left to escape from my problems at home and went to the School for the Deaf in Guantánamo City where I learned sign language and was fully able to communicate with others.  Because I started late at the School for the Deaf, I never learned how to read or write.

When I finished the elementary grades, I returned to Baracoa and got through eighth grade in a regular school without an interpreter.  I then worked at an Artisan workshop but it closed.  I wanted to learn to be a craftsman so I could sell things I made and have a way to live more independently from my Dad.  Since I did not have another place to live, I returned home and I was forced to work again.  If I didn't work hard enough, my father hit me and threatened me by not giving me food.  I argued with him because of that.  He also took my belongings to sell so he can drink. He made me work cutting coconut tree branches to replace the thatch roofs that leaked, planting crops or carrying things like sacks of heavy materials or tomato boxes.

Since my dad does not want me in their house, my mom sneaks meals to me when my dad is drunk and not aware.  My dad sees me as a means to benefit from, and treats me bad and doesn't care about me.  I feel rejected and abandoned by him and my brother doesn't talk to me.  Neither my father, mom nor brother work, just me, so there is very little income.

The neighbors are nice to me and often call me to work to help with my situation.  Communication at home is bad as nobody knows sign language and we communicate in gestures with a lot of misunderstandings.  My neighbors communicate with me the same way.

Now that I am older, I am finding myself wanting to have a girlfriend who I hope to marry and have a family with.  I have a crush on one of the hearing girls who is a neighbor but she has no interest in me because we cannot communicate with each other.  Our home is a little bit outside Baracoa City, so I do not get a chance to meet with other deaf people who live there.

I met an interpreter in Baracoa who shared the gospel with me.  I finally understood that my life and how I was living had to change.  I accepted Jesus in my heart 8 years ago, and since then, my emotional state and attitude has changed for the better.  I was able to stop the bad habits and things that were not helping me.  I am trying to be a better person and I learned to let Jesus help me endure the problems I continue to have at home.

I still live at home, but I am better able to deal with my situation now that I am older and my father is unable to be as physically abusive as he used to be.  The the Hurricane came through, our main house was completely destroyed, leaving us with a few smaller buildings that we were able to repair as much as we could and I sleep in one who the rest of my family stays in another.  I would like to have a normal job as an artisan, have my own family and to rebuild my house.  To be a good artisan, I need tools and materials.

Mike Ver Velde