“I am 80 years old and I just learned to read and write thanks to a radio”

margarita escuela adultos radio

Margarita Forquera is an old woman, an inhabitant of the small town of El Nihuil, in Mendoza. Throughout 2017, it was part of an educational program of a San Rafael school in which dozens of grandparents were taught to read and write through the local radio station. The dreamed harmony of an example of life

Each month and for several years, the grandmother Margarita Forquera received a magazine from one of her daughters in her precarious house in a town in Mendoza. It was a publication that delivered a credit card from a local bank and allowed her to feed her imagination. The woman did not know how to read or write, but she expected the arrival of those pages in order to “create” the content in her head.

Margarita went through most of her life with her illiterate condition. Her husband, Hilario Arena, died a few years ago also unable to read or write. Once alone at home, the woman decided in 2017 and with 79 years to begin the process of literacy.

“When they gave me that magazine, I looked at the photos and the big letters, without understanding anything they said, and I liked to imagine what people might be saying or thinking about where in the world they had taken those photos. very curious, “Margarita told Infobae through a telephone conversation.

“With my husband had 12 children throughout our lives. Neither could neither read nor write. So we forced 12 to go to school. We did not want to repeat the same thing happened to us. We did not want that so many things of life were lost, “he reflected.

Margarita lived all her days in El Nihuil, a small town located about 70 kilometers from the city of San Rafael. Already old, it was too difficult for her to move to the big city to attend an adult school. For this reason, she joined an unpublished program developed by the Luis Grassi School for adults in San Rafael: she learned to write at home through classes given daily on the local radio by that educational institution.

“Last year I started going to that school, but the truth was that it was not always, when it was very cold, I preferred to stay at home, and this is a very cold area, so it was very difficult for me to learn a lot with classes when He went so often, “he explained.

At the beginning of 2017, Margarita was visited in her modest townhouse by a teacher and a psychologist, who offered to learn to read and write without leaving home. For that, they gave him a spreadsheet with large letters and drawings, gave him some colored pencils and warned him to be attentive to the radio during three specific times of the day.

María del Valle Cabaña, director of the Grassi School and one of the main promoters of the class program through a radio, stressed the importance of meeting the needs of those grandparents from rural villages with transfer difficulties.

“Nihuil is inhabited by people who have spent their entire lives in rural areas, they are very simple and humble people, and sometimes it is very difficult to convince these people of the countryside to move to a school to at least begin to read and write. “Cabaña explained to Infobae.

He added: “So, we were thinking about the idea with a team coordinated by the Section 5 supervisor, Pablo Moralejo, and we created this idea.”

The adult center Grassi coordinated his work with the school of El Nihuil called Augusto Rousell to lend him his radio studio. There, a professional speaker recorded the classes between 12 and 15 minutes that would then be broadcast three times each day.

In the morning the program is broadcast with the repeated class of the previous day; At the time of the siesta the content of the new class of the day is heard and at about 20 the same lesson is repeated.

“At the beginning, as these people do not know how to write or read and since there is no physicist there to explain them, we give them a spreadsheet and relate the letters and numbers with colors: A is orange, I is violet, E is green … “, explained Cabaña.

Margarita Forquera was one of the 15 grandmothers and grandparents who dared to take the leap with the radio literacy classes.

” The first word I wrote was my name, I did it at 79 years old and it’s a very beautiful word,” Margarita said with great emotion.

The old woman provides the interview with a borrowed cell phone. Her lack of habit of new technologies made her stick the microphone too much to her face. Therefore, his voice is heard far away, with noises.

“There are many things that people who can read will never understand, I almost never could go out without being accompanied by one of my children.” If I went to the store, I had to wait for the owner to grab my tickets because I did not I could count how much money I had to pay, even when I went to this school in San Rafael, they had to accompany me, if I got lost, there was no way I could understand which streets I was in

Margarita never left El Nihuil. During all his youth he lived in a country house, in the rural depth of the area. All her family and herself dedicated herself to the raising of goats. Later, he worked on farms and in a metallurgical factory called De Grassi.

“There, I was in charge of having all the worker’s lunch ready, I knew how to count but I did not know how to read the time, so to know when I had to go to my house, I would draw a line every day on a paper every day. When the big needle of the watch looked up, when I counted six lines, I knew that I could go to my house. ”

“My compañeras helped me so that I could collect all the salary and I have to thank my bosses and my employers who helped me so that I did not have more time than I had to stay.”

Both the De Grassi factory and the Carbon-metal factory were the two main labor engines of El Nihuil in its history. Once both closed, the young people of the region were forced to move to other nearby cities. And there were the old, the old, practically isolated.

“At first, I was a little embarrassed to say that I was almost eighty years old and could not read or write, but the teachers and some neighbors encouraged me to study and congratulated me, sometimes it betrays my memory a bit and I forget things, but with effort everything can be done, “Margarita reflected in her forceful but soft voice.

The 80-year-old woman recognizes that she still has to practice and finish learning some things. He tries to read the posters in the businesses, the names of the streets and, from time to time, he is encouraged to interpret the occasional text message on the cell phones of his children.

Also, after the first literacy year, Margarita remains linked to the adult institution of San Rafael: today it is part of the schooling process at the Luis Grassi organization. It must go back to the educational institution, where the classes increased their diversity of material and even demand.

“Now I go to school, yes, but I keep the same idea: if it’s very cold, I prefer to stay in a house, I’m not going to be so cool at this stage of my life,” said Margarita.

The woman, who recently overcame a phase of depression for the death of her husband Hilario, is now dedicated to continue their studies and enjoy their more than 30 grandchildren who visit her every day.

Meanwhile, the radio literacy program in El Nihuil continues to expand: “In 2017 we had about 15 students through this system, of which 10 are already enrolled in our center today, ” explained Cabaña.

“In addition, in the two months of classes we have this year, about five new students joined us and several districts asked us for the bases to do the same in their regions, ” he added.

Margarita broke the radio with which she learned to write. Even the worn wooden table that he used as a desk in his precarious living for a year today rests at the door, outside the home. It was replaced by a new white table. Reflections of a new life, of an old woman who thanks to the understanding and writing of the texts found her particular way of “being born again”.

“Now I can read messages and know who wrote them to me and that is beautiful, I would like it if there are other people who are as I was, who put the batteries and make the effort.” With effort and care, everything is achieved. It’s late when the happiness is good, “he said with emotion shortly before taking off the microphone of the borrowed cell phone from his cheek.