Feb 2018 ABC27
Sarah Maharaj’s little girl heard the world once again. Her daughter Shalini’s long struggle with hearing loss finally became a success that magical day—all thanks to cochlear implants. The single mom considers the process both her greatest challenge and her greatest achievement in helping Shalini. Sarah tells us the entire time, she kept repeating three words, “Never give up.”
“I was like, oh my God, this is actually going to work, she’s actually hearing! You’re talking to her one time and she’s hearing you, and it was like, oh my God! It’s a miracle,” Sarah recounted with her eyes welling. “I was like, I guess this technology is just getting to where a deaf person can hear and, it was like a miracle. It was amazing.” That smile; that reaction; that unmistakable joy was what her mother wanted more than anything else.
Years earlier, a specialist told Sarah her daughter would soon be deaf. “It felt devastating to me because I had her late in life. My first thought was did I do something, or did I not do something. Is that why?” she asked herself. Turns out, the problem with Shalini’s hearing was no one’s fault.
As a toddler, she had tubes in her ears and one of them punctured her eardrum, causing severe scar tissue and a heartbreaking diagnosis. Sarah had two reactions: heartache and determination.
“My thought was okay, what can we do to help. What can we do to fix this,” she said. From that point on, the mother was on a mission. After countless frustrating phone calls, sleepless nights, painful surgeries, tears and prayers, it finally happened. Shalini could hear again.
Shalini’s face lights up once again as she talks about her favourite things. “I like to make puzzles, do all kinds of, sort of, fun stuff. and draw,” she said. The 8-year-old is happier than ever with her “super ears,” a nickname her mother created for her cochlear implants. Sarah tells her daughter all the time the super ears make her super special. “I’ve been hearing very clearly. Like a bird chirping,” Shalini said. That statement is music to her mother’s ears. “I was like, wow,” Sarah smiled, tears in her eyes once again. “She’s hearing! It was just —wow!”