I am Holly Wissler, Ethnomusicologist and Tour Leader living and working in Cusco, Peru, and friend to most of you who are reading this right now! Many of you helped fund my documentary on the musical rituals of the remote community of Q’eros, Peru (“From Grief and Joy We Sing” 2007).
With your much needed help, we will make a documentary that will galvanize change in Peru in regards to rights for deaf children and adults.
It breaks my heart that my adopted deaf son, Dante, from the beautiful mountain community of Q’eros, Peru, must leave his home country if he is to have education beyond the 6th grade of elementary school. He is one of the lucky ones! Most deaf children in Peru are fortunate if they complete primary school and even acquire sign language in order to communicate their most basic needs and thoughts. Discrimination against deaf adults prohibits employment, and many are forced to live off of handouts - or if they are employed, they often receive lower pay than hearing people in the same job.
Dante did not walk on his own until age 6, and only acquired sign language at age 7. He moved from his mountain home to Cusco at age 7 to begin his education at the Catholic school for the deaf, San Francisco de Asís. Dante's life-change from dull understimulation and no language, to awakening into joy, vigor, curiosity, and expression of his thoughts and passions, is the centerpiece for this awareness-raising documentary about the fight for the basic rights of all Deaf people in Peru: access to education, communication, interpreter services, employment, and recognition as intelligent, contributing members of society. Interviews with prominent deaf adults and deaf educators in Lima and Cusco explain the obstacles and lack, and propose solutions for Deaf rights in Peru. These leaders challenge the label “disabled” - a movement that has been strong in the U.S. for decades now, and is just beginning in Peru.
Our team has worked on this documentary voluntarily for three years now, with the majority of the footage shot. We are beginning post-production stages, and with your donation we can complete a cutting-edge documentary that will stimulate these necessary changes in Peru.
Our four-person grassroots team has donated our time and technical support to shoot about 40+ hours of video footage from which to edit. The footage is from 2003 to the present, from Q’eros, to Cusco. Our goal is to make the documentary available in Peru and the U.S., to the deaf and the hearing. Therefore production will be in 4 languages:
Peruvian Sign Language, American Sign Language, Spanish and English.
We need funding for all post-production costs:
-- Editing, color grading, final interviews and supporting material: $13,000
-- Translation (4 languages) and interpretation (Peru and the U.S.): $2,000
-- Sound and music mix: $2000
-- DVD design and production, DCP and other finishing costs: $3000
For your donation, you will receive specific weavings made directly by the women in Dante’s Q’eros family. In this way, the “perk” you will receive is unique, beautiful and personal, and goes directly to a Q'eros family.
We aim to finish the film in 2017 so that it can begin circulation through the appropriate ministries, schools, and educational circles and start to do its job of stimulating awareness and change. On a larger scale, the documentary will be a model of what deaf services are needed in under-developing countries, and primarily stimulate change from within.
Ultimately your donation will help to improve the quality of education and lives for the Deaf in Peru.
The documentary will:
1) Stimulate change towards decent education and opportunities for the Deaf
2) Begin the necessary change in the archaic mind-set in Peru that the Deaf are “mentally handicapped” or “less than” – but are full, capable, and equal human beings.
3) Provoke dialogue for solutions, on the individual family level, as well as nationally with educational and governmental institutions that are obligated to provide education and services for the Deaf.
4) Stress the human right of communication, and in particular the natural language of the Deaf - sign - and how basic communication makes a full life possible, as I have seen with Dante.
5) Touch hearts by showing how love conquers all - Dante and I fight against all odds to give him the best life possible, piecing together an education with the help of his dedicated teachers, private tutors, and mentors.
6) Represent all deaf children in Peru, and everywhere, who deserve the very same chance at life as hearing children.
7) Any donations and proceeds that come from the documentary will go to fund seminars and projects to enhance deaf education in Peru.
Please connect us with organizations and institutions that you believe would support our cause! You can either forward this campaign or write to me personally. I would deeply appreciate this help!
Holly Wissler, Producer, Director, Creator
Jose Huamán Turpo, Assistant Director, First camera
Enrique Reinoso Astete, Editor, camera
Alejandrina Calancha Monge, Editor, Translator