New York Times Neediest Cases

A Silent Daughter, Reunited With Her Father, Learns to Speak 3 Languages - New York Times

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When Daysi Perdomo came to the United States at 7, she could barely speak, her delayed speech owing to a hearing impairment. More than two years later, she can communicate in three languages.

Daysi’s arrival reunited her with her father, Getulio Perdomo, who left her in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in 2006 in the care of her mother.

“I had the possibility to have a better life for Daysi here, so I came,” Mr. Perdomo, 30, said in Spanish through an interpreter.

Mr. Perdomo’s plan was to settle in New York, where his mother and aunts were living, find a job, and save up enough money for Daysi and her mother to join him.

Employment came right away. Mr. Perdomo’s stepfather helped him find work as a house painter’s assistant. The rest of his plan grew more complicated when Daysi’s mother began a relationship with another man.

Mr. Perdomo remained dedicated to bringing his daughter to the United States. Patience would be the key as the years passed.

His only glimpses of her were from photographs and via Skype sessions, when Daysi’s mother would allow them.

When Daysi was 5, a teacher noticed that she was not responding to questions in class and that she was having trouble learning. Daysi’s mother offered what Mr. Perdomo believed to be a spurious explanation: that doctors had determined that Daysi had been hearing-impaired since birth.

“I was having doubts that she was born this way,” he said.

His daughter was barely a year old when he left, but Mr. Perdomo had vivid memories of speaking to Daysi and hearing her as an infant babble back at him.

The account by Daysi’s mother of their daughter’s hearing impairment renewed his desire to take her into his care. Mr. Perdomo feared that Daysi was being neglected and possibly abused. He eventually raised the money to pay for a smuggler to bring Daysi across Central America, into Mexico and ultimately into Texas, with her mother’s consent, but needed to wait until someone he knew and trusted could accompany his daughter. That opportunity came in July 2013.

Mr. Perdomo described the reunion with Daysi as “an emotional moment.” He had left her when she was so little and now she was a 7-year-old girl.

She joined a household that Mr. Perdomo shares with his girlfriend, Jeymy Guzman, and Ms. Guzman’s two children, a 9-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. They rent a cottage in Far Rockaway, Queens, blocks from the ocean.

Right away, Mr. Perdomo noticed a small scar above Daysi’s right ear that her mother said was from an accident that happened when she was younger. He does not know the details, but he speculated that whatever happened might have damaged her hearing.

Daysi was given hearing aids but still barely spoke, although she was able to understand whatever she was told. She found ways to convey her needs. If she wanted water, she would get an empty water bottle, Mr. Perdomo said.

He brought Daysi to Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, seeking the help of its immigration services.Catholic Charities, one of the agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, represented Daysi to legalize her immigration status and helped place her in a school for deaf students.

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