I am Juan de Dios Pellecer Aldana and I want to tell you about how participating in a communications project changed my life.
I was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalic, according to my mother. A few hours after being born, I had my first operation.
I live with my mother and stepfather, who is like my father because he took responsibility for me. There are four children in my family, all boys, but I am the oldest. One of my brothers is a psychologist, the other studies electrical engineering and the youngest is still in school. My grandma also lives with us. My grandpa already passed away.
I studied until sixth grade and then quit studying for two years. I later returned to study the basics and get my degree. I got my bachelors degree in science and computing, but then quit studying because I felt bad about being the oldest student in the class. Worst still, my classmates made fun of me. Before participating with Asociacion Comunicares, I stayed alone in the house helping wash dishes, fold clothes, watch my younger brothers; helping with whatever I could do. At first, I felt good just staying at home, but with time I began feeling desperate because I wasn’t doing anything.
I worked for a while in a mechanics shop and then in a pharmacy making pomades. One day my father said, “You like the radio, you should study communication.” But I didn’t know what to do to study that.
A friend of my mother’s told her about the radio program “Juventud al Aire/Youth on the Air”, and I listened to it. One day I got up the courage to call to find out what I had to do to become a part of their volunteer team. They told me to come to their office. I went and I’ve been a part of this wonderful team ever since. I feel good with them, even though I still get a little nervous and tongue tied when I speak on the radio program.
I remember the first day I went to the radio for the program “Youth on the Air”. I just arrived at the station, presented myself and started to talk. The first time I spoke in the microphone for the program, I was nervous but with the help of everyone, I was able to do it. What most interested me about the program was learning more about HIV and AIDS and my wish to help youth have more information about this issue.
My participation in the radio program consists of speaking about different issues that affect everyone in society and counseling the audience. To prepare my segment, I wait until [the Comunicares team] sends me the information so I can summarize and practice it.
Acting in the radio drama “The Intruder” was also an amazing experience. I had never participated in anything like it. I liked it a lot. I feel good playing my role in the drama. To record the radio drama, I need to practice and practice the role they give me; that way I don’t get as tongue tied and I strengthen the character.
My biggest shortcoming is my complex about my physical state; because of it I didn’t have many friends and was really quiet. But this has changed. Since I began participating in “Youth on the Air”, I’ve started talking more and I have a good group of friends. They are like my other family. On the radio, everyone tells me that I’m talking more and am more opinionated about the issues. Before I was really quiet. I would only do my segment and then quit speaking. Now I think I have more opinions and I like that, they make me feel better about myself and more a part of the group.
In the Comunicares project I have the opportunity to share with lots of youth who have the same questions that I do, and to learn about HIV and AIDS. I want all youth to know about the risks they run by not protecting themselves when they have sexual relations.
I participated in one of the Comunicares fairs. I was really enthusiastic toward the public when participating in the activities. This was hard for me because I was really nervous. I’m a little timid around the girls, but once I gain confidence, well, I become a rock star. If I was an instrument, it would be a guitar. I can make the sound be soft of hard, whatever the occasion calls for. I try to speak with everyone in the group, but sometimes with some of the girls I don’t know how to act and that makes them mad.
I consider myself just like everyone else, but I admit that in some situations I have to strengthen myself three times as much as everyone else to not seem different. At Comunicares they have told me that having someone like me, with special needs, participate has brought a lot to the project.
What I like most about the program is sharing with the others. Obviously, in formal moments we also have our jokes. It’s fun to practice being adults! It’s easy to laugh when you find yourself in a group that meets to do good for others, that donates its time and energy so that those people who haven’t had access to the information we learn day by day. I can laugh with my group because I know we are doing something good for my country. My parents are happy and proud that I am participating in the Comunicares project; they say this to their friends and family, and they always say they hear me on the radio. I feel really good when they say they liked the program.
I feel excellent in the “Youth on the Air” Project. Now I feel more energetic and am no longer as depressed as I was before. I am always excited for Sunday!
Juan plans to study Communication. He believes if he sets his mind to it, it will happen.
PCI-Media Impact empowers communities worldwide to inspire enduring change through creative storytelling.
For 25 years, we have worked with local partners to produce programs that address the most pressing social and environmental issues. Using our unique My Community methodology, we engage and empower audiences around the world to improve their own lives. Working with local partners, we change the world one story at a time. For more information about this project and others like it, visit: http://www.mediaimpact.org.