Meet Juan Gómez

Juan has always been passionate about sports. At age 30, you will still find him running the hills of the stadium in his hometown Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. He loves being active, and frequently plays sports with his friends. Juan is such an optimistic man, you would never guess the trials he has overcome. Juan was diagnosed with mental deficiency and never developed fully mentally. Juan’s family abandoned in Guatemala. Only able to speak Mayan in a Spanish-speaking country, he was completely lost with no way to communicate. Luckily, he was found by the ANINI group, an organization that helps orphans and abandoned children and adults, who took him in even though they were unable to communicate with him.

After finding Juan abandoned by his family, we soon realized he only spoke the Mayan language, and we could only speak Spanish. We had no way of knowing where Juan came from, who his family was, what condition or needs he had.
Director of ANINI

When he arrived at ANINI, Juan’s caretakers soon noticed his developmental delays. They understood this would make learning a new language even more difficult for Juan. He began receiving the care he needed for his condition, but the language barrier still complicated his situation. Despite his disabilities, Juan worked hard to learn as much Spanish as he could. He had a difficult time pronouncing sounds and words correctly, making it very hard for people to understand him.

Even though I tried to say things correctly, no one ever understood me. I got frustrated that I couldn’t speak Spanish well. I just wanted people to understand me.

Juan was one of few people chosen for a sponsorship by FAST in 2015. He began speech therapy with the SmartPalate, which made an enormous difference in his pronunciation. With the ability to see his tongue placement while speaking, Juan understood how to correct many of his pronunciation errors. He could finally express himself clearly. Through the help of the SmartPalate, Juan has regained his ability to communicate and has become the light-hearted guy everyone at ANIN knows and loves. With his improved speech, he can share his life story with everyone around him.

Many people are in a similar position as Juan. All they desperately want is the ability to communicate. Your FAST donations provide someone tools and services to someone in need in order to develop their speech. Something that most of us take for granted every day.
Michael, FAST Representative