Pablo Martos is an ASL student, a Baby Signing Time Instructor, and the father of two signing children with special needs. He’s also the husband of Carissa, Master Signing Time Instructor and the Signing Time Foundation’s Academy Outreach Coordinator.
Why am I going to Ghana?
I’m a stay at home dad, and just started a grad school program. What am I doing going to Ghana? Well, the story goes back a couple years. You see, my wife is the infamously indefatigable Carissa Martos, and we have two kids who are . . . different. When we discovered that one of them needed sign language to jump-start his communication, she immediately started taking ASL classes, and signed up as soon as she could to use those skills in the Signing Time Academy and help others. Before long, she was an Associate Director in the Academy, and started supporting the Signing Time Foundation by throwing and coordinating fundraising concerts that sent Rachel all over the country.
At one point, I was at a park with my son, signing about the playground equipment (RUN, STOP, SWING, GOOD BOY). A man in his late 40s, early 50s was watching us, and he started to cry. Eventually he came over to my wife and I, told her he was Deaf, and asked if Julian was Deaf. When my wife told him that Julian just couldn’t talk, but could hear, the man started crying even harder. He told my wife that it was a beautiful thing watching a father sign with their child, and that he wished he’d been able to do that. His father had never learned to sign at all, and so had died without ever having a conversation with his son. That really impacted me, and I knew I’d need to increase my study of the language. I started taking community college classes, making Deaf friends, and building a larger vocabulary with my son, eventually singing up with the Academy to be able to substitute in classes here or there.
I helped my wife every bit I could with her home business, and with the Rachel concert preparations. When concerts have taken place here in Portland or in Seattle, we’ve managed the whole affair ourselves, and in the rest of the country, my wife fulfills her role admirably getting others to do the same. There have been over a dozen concerts since we got started, and three of them have been our own. Two in Seattle, and one in Portland (with another planned for this coming Spring). Our first concert was in Seattle, and we filled our 700-person venue. Every single pre-sold ticket order was emailed in. I recorded, tracked, printed, and mailed every one, and tracked the funds as well. I made phone calls, I posted to Facebook and Twitter, I solicited items for a silent auction, and I pursued sponsors. I repeated the process for the two subsequent concerts, and each has been a success. At the shows I work backstage, I take tickets, I shake hands, I promote the Foundation and its other concerts and work, I sell popcorn and DVDs, I help every way I can, and I fall down from exhaustion at then end in a very satisfied heap, knowing it worked well and that it was in no small part because of my efforts. I do it for my wife, and I do it for my son, and I do it for all the people STF helps.
Well, because of our dedication to their work, my wife and I got invited to join the Signing Time Foundation on their trip to Ghana this January. The fact is, there is no way I could say no. Not just because my wife would’ve lost her mind, but because the need in Ghana is so great. The Signing Time Foundation does great work here in the US, important and fulfilling work that helps a lot of children. But Deaf children in Ghana have it so much harder, have so few opportunities and so many obstacles. It is impossible to care about the struggles of children with communication disabilities here in the US without caring about the struggles of similar children in Ghana.
If I can play even just a small part in helping the Foundation and Signs of Hope International make the world better for a few students, I have to.
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