CCHAT Student Spotlight: Hafiz Azizpur
Living in Afghanistan, Naqibullah Azizpur had a vision for his life. With a growing family and a stable job, things seemed to be going according to plan.
Finding out that his young son was deaf changed everything, but it would help lead Naqibulllah to find the program that would change his family’s lives and restore hope for their view of the future.
With a daughter already in tow, Naqibullah was overjoyed to welcome his son, Hafizullah, to the family. Because his daughter exhibited typical hearing, Naqibullah hardly noticed that his son, better known as Hafiz, did not receive a newborn hearing screening.
It wasn’t until Hafiz turned 1 year old that Naqibullah learned of his son’s hearing loss. Hafiz was profoundly deaf.
“For a parent, it really is the hardest time in your entire life,” Naqibullah said. “I was shocked. What is happening? How will my son survive with no hearing? Thousands of questions were popping up in my mind with no answers.”
Figuring Out the Next Step
Naqibullah had a diagnosis but now he needed to decide what to do for Hafiz. At 19 months, Hafiz underwent cochlear implant surgery in India. However, upon activation, Hafiz was receiving no educational services in his native Afghanistan.
While Naqibullah and his family were navigating Hafiz’s hearing loss, unrest in Afghanistan was intensifying.
“The country's war was increasing,” Naqibullah said. “The situation was getting more difficult day by day.”
With his family’s well-being at the forefront of his mind, Naqibullah made the monumental decision to leave Afghanistan and move to the United States in 2021.
Establishing Roots in America
Understandably, moving from Afghanistan to California was a massive adjustment for Naqibullah and his family. To add to the challenge, Naqibullah was mastering the language barrier, and Hafiz was still in need of services to assist him on his hearing loss journey.
At Hafiz’s initial assessment, CCHAT was recommended for placement – and suddenly hope was restored for Naqibullah and his family.
“I have thousands of feelings about CCHAT that I can’t express by words,” Naqibullah said. “CCHAT is unbelievable.”
First Days at CCHAT
Hafiz started attending CCHAT in July 2021 at age 5. In addition to classroom instruction, he began receiving CCHAT’s traditional daily speech therapy and audiological support. For the first time, he was getting the essential services he needed to develop his listening and spoken language.
However, Naqibullah wasn’t the only one figuring out the English language. Hafiz was comfortable in his native Farsi and Dari dialects, but his knowledge of English was very minimal.
Lauren Gius, Hafiz’s first speech therapist at CCHAT, remembers her early days with Hafiz.
“Hafiz had a low baseline for English with little knowledge of even numbers and letters,” Lauren said. “But the thing I remember most is how hard he worked to learn. He knew that he wanted to become proficient, and he was willing to work as hard as was needed.”
The pair started by learning the names of Hafiz’s classmates, which allowed him to be more social in class. Hafiz took it from there, using his natural humor to find ways to communicate with his friends and CCHAT staff members.
Naqibullah noticed the difference within weeks.
“Hafiz was not only able to read and write words in our own language, but his English skill was getting better and better everyday,” Naqibullah said.
Feeling Confident About Hafiz’s Future
Now in his second year at CCHAT, Hafiz continues to make daily growth toward his listening and spoken language goals. Additionally, he is extremely well-liked by his peers, looks to make connections with everyone at CCHAT and exudes confidence that has been built by his language development.
At home, Hafiz serves as a helpful member of his family. Naqibullah notes his “soft heart,” which helps now that he has a younger brother to watch out for. Hafiz loves playing soccer, painting and riding his bike.
Naqibullah credits CCHAT not only for being a big catalyst for Hafiz’s growth but also for restoring hope to his family in regard to Hafiz’s future.
“The management, the hard working administrative staff, the great teachers, their passion for helping…” Naqibullah said. “CCHAT gives hope to kids and helps them learn how to stand on their feet. CCHAT also brings light, hope and happiness to the families.”
With Hafiz’s hard work – he now confidently can express himself in three languages – and CCHAT’s support, Naqibullah feels secure that his initial dreams for Hafiz can come true.
“First of all, I hope for good health for Hafiz,” Naqibullah said. “Then I hope he will enroll in his mainstream school, build his English skills and engage like other students, eventually enrolling in college for his higher education…But he will never forget CCHAT.”
Hafiz was featured in this year’s CCHAT holiday card. To help CCHAT continue providing life-changing services to Hafiz and other children with hearing loss, please consider making a donation to our program.