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Impact  >  Student Story

Eduardo Mendez 

In 2005, Eduardo came to Durham from Honduras to earn money to support his 10-year-old son’s education. For two years, he worked as a plumber and was able to send home enough money for his son’s textbooks, school clothes, and other basic needs. (Like many economic refugees, Eduardo is trapped in a lonely dilemma; he can only support his family by leaving them behind. Like many of our students, he is separated from his family for years at a time).



In 2007, coming home from his work, he was attacked outside his apartment by two men who robbed him and shot him in the head. For five days, he lay unconscious in the hospital. For 18 days, his family back in Honduras had no idea about his ordeal. Miraculously, Eduardo did (partially) recover; a series of operations left him largely blinded and severely weakened, but with a chance of continued progress toward better health. However, he could no longer work. Suddenly, he absolutely had to learn English; no longer able to use his plumbing skills, he needed to re-train himself for a new kind of job. 



From January 2008 through Fall 2009, Eduardo worked one-on-one with an ESOL volunteer, Kathy Wulff. During that time, his eyesight gradually improved, and he traded his eyepatch for a prosthetic eye. However, he still relied on the oversized visual aids that she prepared for him each week. He proudly told staff how much he learned at the DLC; now he can understand and answer questions like, “Where are you from?” and “What is your address?” He has learned new vocabulary words but gets most excited about recent expeditions to McDonalds. Ordering food had been difficult for him, and Kathy helped him practice out in the real world.

Eduardo came to DLC with very little English, and although progress can sometimes be slow, he was optimistic about a new life in the U.S. His attackers have been convicted; he is happy about his progress speaking and reading English; and he recently found a new job!