Citizens march to ask for attention to people with disabilities in the Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo.- Zoilo Peña Melo, now 65, overcame significant challenges from birth, including a raised chest, a right-sided heart, and raw skin. Diagnosed as deaf and mute at two, Zoilo hasn’t let his condition hinder his life. He pursued a career in graphic design and is recognized by his family as highly intelligent.
Recently, Zoilo participated in a march advocating for the inclusion of people with hearing disabilities. The march, named “IV Walking with the Deaf 2023,” was organized by the Association for the Education of the Deaf (APES) and the National School for the Deaf (Enapsor) in the Colonial City. The event saw a large turnout, with hundreds walking from Parque Independencia to Parque San José.
Myrna Brugal de Jana, president of APES, emphasized the walk’s aim to advocate for disabled individuals. She urged the general public to understand that disabilities don’t define a person. Jeanette Francisco Ulloa, director of Enapsor, highlighted the event as a familial community gathering, commemorating the International Day of People with Disabilities.
Zoilo’s sister, Margarita Peña de Martínez, shared insights into his upbringing. He never spoke as a child due to being born at 10 months, a factor doctors attributed to his disabilities. Over time, many of Zoilo’s birth complications, like his raised chest and raw skin, resolved themselves.
After their mother’s passing 22 years ago, Zoilo and Margarita have been inseparable, sharing a strong bond. At 16, Zoilo attended the National School for the Deaf, learning to read and write, which enabled him to join the workforce. Currently, he splits his time between Azua, at his maternal mother’s house, and activities at the National School for the Deaf, which boasts an enrollment of 437 students in Santo Domingo and others across the country.
Source: Listin Diario