In the room, there is a speaker playing reggaeton and a phone with the volume all the way up playing cumbia that set the scattered conversations to music. At the long table covered with plastic, several people scoop the insides out of jicaros with tablespoons. It is easier for some than for others, but by the end of this week they must have 30 jicaros dried out, carved and painted in the form of lanterns to fulfill the first contract that they have signed as an association.
We are in the hall of the Nicoyan Association of People with Disabilities (Asoniped), which seeks to help people like them integrate into society and achieve, in one way or another, independence. This first contract was made with a state institution (Senara), and they hope to find similar ones.
Meanwhile, their mothers, aunts and sisters are usually the caregivers who are on the other side, wrapping tamales at full speed to sell to raise funds for the association.
They come here every day from Monday to Friday, and it doesn’t matter if they are in music, hydrotherapy, or crafts classes, there is something in the scene that does not change: a female face taking close care of them.
According to the 2018 Survey about Disabilities by the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), 70% of the people who provide assistance to this population are women. In Asoniped, many lack resources and have to travel long distances to take them to medical appointments or classes.
This job, which in itself is difficult, is further complicated because, according to the same survey, 90% of these people do not receive any payment for it.
The limitations do not stop them because they say they have seen how the workshops have given vitality back to those who attend, it gives them a reason to leave their homes and to feel that they have companionship.
Behind the hall, a small field grows with corn, squash and other vegetables that they have planted themselves. Inside, in a storage area, there are dozens of handicrafts made with recycled material from previous workshops.
Around the work tables, arranged across the corridor, there are those who struggle to live a more dignified and independent life. Very close to them, there are strong women observing, making sure they can build that future.