At home with Amira

Snapshots of a family from Argentina, whose daughter with deafblindness has started attending school

Amira, left, with her parents and siblings. All photos by Ale Ares.

Amira, left, with her parents and siblings. All photos by Ale Ares.

October 18, 2016

Dante Vera is waiting in the rain as we pull up to his family’s home.

It’s a mild but dreary winter morning here in Argentina. Dante greets us with a polite handshake, takes one last pull from his cigarette and leads us inside.

I’ve travelled to the working class Moreno district in Buenos Aires province along with a translator and photographer. We’ve come to meet Amira, Dante’s 3-year-old daughter, who was born deafblind. Amira just started attending public school three months ago.

“I want Amira to learn more,” Amira’s mother, Cynthia, tells me. “I want her to talk and walk and have a normal life just like anybody else.”

Dante and Cynthia share one small room with Amira and her two older siblings, who watch curiously from a corner bunk as we file in from the rain. Also joining us today are three local educators, including Amira’s teacher, Mariel Giannattasio.

From these close quarters, Dante and Cynthia graciously tell us their story. I later wrote about Amira in the Fall 2016 issue of Perspectives magazine.

Raising a child with multiple disabilities is not easy in Moreno. But the Vera’s love for Amira inspires them to overcome every-day challenges and give her the best life possible.

Dante Vera stands outside his family’s home in Moreno, a 30-minute drive from downtown Buenos Aires. Dante, his wife and three children all share one room.

Dante Vera stands outside his family’s home in Moreno, a 30-minute drive from downtown Buenos Aires. Dante, his wife and three children all share one room.

Cynthia Vera holds Amira as Dante looks on. Amira, who was born deafblind, has limited vision and hearing. She is one of more than 1,300 public school students with multiple disabilities now benefitting from Perkins International’s teacher training efforts across Buenos Aires province.

Cynthia Vera holds Amira as Dante looks on. Amira, who was born deafblind, has limited vision and hearing. She is one of more than 1,300 public school students with multiple disabilities now benefiting from Perkins International’s teacher training efforts across Buenos Aires province.

Amira is encouraged to smile before a video interview with her parents. For Amira, the opportunity to attend class two days a week at Escuela Especial 505 has been transformative.

Amira is encouraged to smile before a video interview with her parents. For Amira, the opportunity to attend class two days a week at Escuela Especial 505 has been transformative.

This is the first time Amira’s public school teacher, Mariel Giannattasio, left, has visited Amira at home. She is joined by Perkins International consultants Marcela Toscano and Maria Alejandra Camperi. Perkins International has been training teachers in Buenos Aires for the last 15 years.

This is the first time Amira’s public school teacher, Mariel Giannattasio, left, has visited Amira at home. She is joined by Perkins International consultants Marcela Toscano and Maria Alejandra Camperi. Perkins International has been training teachers in Buenos Aires province for the last 15 years.

 Giannattasio is one of 13 teachers at Escuela Especial 505 to receive training from Perkins International. Here she uses a stuffed animal to get Amira’s attention.

Giannattasio is one of 13 teachers at Escuela Especial 505 to receive training from Perkins International. Here she uses a stuffed animal to get Amira’s attention.

Amira’s sister, 11, and brother, 10, look on from their bunk. Cynthia must arrange for a babysitter to watch them whenever she takes Amira to school.

Amira’s sister, 11, and brother, 10, look on from their bunk. Cynthia must arrange for a babysitter to watch them whenever she takes Amira to school.

Dante cradles Amira. Her parents can’t afford to buy a wheelchair, so they must get her to and from school in a well-worn baby carriage.

Dante cradles Amira. Her parents can’t afford to buy a wheelchair, so they must get her to and from school in a well-worn baby carriage.

For more on how Amira is benefiting from Perkins International’s teaching training program in Buenos Aires, read the story in Perspectives magazine.