April 3, 2020
The Nyikango Family came to the United States in September of 2018 from South Sudan Africa. Stephen and Julia’s oldest daughter was given the opportunity to receive a cochlear implant and the hope of one day being able to hear. While recovering from the procedure, Paulina received intense hands on rehabilitation and education to prepare her for an array of possible outcomes. She learned sign language, she learned to communicate in verbal and non-verbal ways, she learned to recognize sounds and what different types of sounds can mean. Paulina was also able to attend school. She road the bus, made friends, was able to develop socially with children her own age and experience a school setting she would not have had in her home country. Stephen was not able to stay in the states during this time. He had to return to Africa to work. Julia had her hands full with Paulina and her 2 younger sisters Faith and Sara, and endured an entire pregnancy on her own until forth daughter, Penina arrived in August of 2019 . The family petitioned to stay in the United States however their petition was denied so they prepared to return to Africa in November when their new travel Visas arrived. But their Visas didn’t arrive, and after experiencing months of paperwork and frustration in waiting for their Visas, COVID19 struck the world and they became unable to go home, no matter how much they wanted to. The blessing in this, was the longer they stayed, the more therapy Paulina was able to receive. Her treatment was continuous and evolved into learning with an iPad when contact with others became restricted. The Nyikango Family has been at RMH for over 570 nights and will remain until travel is authorized back to their country. Paulina, her mom and her 3 sisters will keep practicing sign language and keep learning how to communicate with each other through hands on learning, iPad Apps and Paulina’s therapist until they are able to go home.