Updated 4 months ago

Aymara women using radio to raise awareness of children’s disabilities

If the Bolivian government does not do what is needed to raise public awareness about disabilities, it will be accomplished by radio, as per the efforts of several mothers of children with functional disabilities on the “Distint@s e Iguales” (Different and Equal) program.

Exalta Sinka, Dolores Marca and Eugenia Quispe, three Aymara women from El Alto, La Paz’s neighboring city, take to the microphones and Maria Eugenia Vargas records them to broadcast their discussions on video with the required translation into sign language.

They want to reach people with disabilities, but also the taxi driver who doesn’t want a person in a wheelchair to get into his cab, said Marca, or the doctor who does not attend to a mentally disabled child “because he’s afraid,” said Vargas.

“Let them put themselves into our shoes for a little while,” the producer and director of the radio show, Claudia Vargas, said, criticizing the fact that disabled people are seen “as strange creatures” when “they are different but have the right to be equal.”

The women, who have little financing for the project, intend to air their radio show once a month with support from television station ATB, and to visit centers and schools and interview mothers, along with being active on the social networks so that they can reach the entire population.

They are not educated, but they have been able to do a radio show, and they didn’t know what their children’s disabilities were until they were diagnosed, but they want to prevent the same thing from happening to other people.

On the first show, Exalta Sinka spoke about her son, Ulises Saul Vargas, now 18, who has a hearing disability that was diagnosed in infancy.

Never having heard anyone speak about disabilities, she thought that she should just stick a nail into his ears to make him hear properly, she felt very lonely and her husband blamed her for “having given birth” to such a child.

Maria Eugenia Vargas takes care of seven children, two of whom have disabilities, which her husband claimed “come from the maternal side of the family,” and her siblings reject.

The radio program is a way to contribute to society and, at the same time, to get the authorities to pay attention to the plight of disabled people.