Fronteras: Fathers Impact On Infant Development & A Border Tale For Children | Texas Public Radio

Fronteras: Fathers Impact On Infant Development & A Border Tale For Children

Jun 15, 2018

On Fronteras:

  • Tackling infant mortality with paternal involvement (0:15).
  • The true story of a father and son’s journey across the U.S.-Mexico border told in a children’s book (14:25).

Ramon Vasquez and Ari Chagoya.
Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio

‘Do We Know How Many Boys Have Grown Up Without Ever Being Ever Called Son?’

On this Father’s Day weekend, we’re focusing on the roles of fathers in raising their families. A study  by University of Texas System Population Health revealed two zip codes in San Antonio had markedly higher infant death rates than the rest of Texas. The 78203 zip code reported 16 deaths per 1,000 births. The 78220 zip code reported 11.6 deaths per 1,000 births. The average statewide is 5.6 deaths per 1,000 births.

FRONTERAS EXTRA | Creating A Generation Of Children 'Whose Emotions Matter'

Experts say focusing on the health of the mother is a start in tackling infant and even maternal mortality, but the involvement of fathers is also important.

Ramón Vasquez, executive director of American Indians in Texas, joins us to discuss the Fatherhood Initiative, which involves working with fathers and their families from the start.

Ari Chagoya is a local doula, trained to assist women prepare for childbirth. Vasquez and Chagoya discuss working together to bring babies into the world with strong support systems.


Young Alfredito overhears his father planning their journey with a coyote.
Credit Barefoot Books Publishing

‘La Frontera: El Viaje Con Papá’: Border Crossing Told Through A Child’s Eyes

Alfredito is a young 8-year-old boy, whose father tells him they are going on a journey. They say goodbye to their family and their pet donkey and meet up with a coyote, who ditches them after leading them across Mexico and into a desert rife with fire ants.

FRONTERAS EXTRA | 'La Frontera: El Viaje Con Papá': Illustrating The Journey

Alfredito and his father’s story is told in the children’s book “La Frontera: El Viaje con Papá, My Journey with Papa.” Alfredo Alva is a mason and construction worker living in Kerrville. As a 14-year-old, Alva made that journey with his father. Fellow Kerrville resident and first-time author Deborah Mills wanted to share Alva’s story with a young audience.

Alva says his real-life journey — and the one in the book — began in the small Mexican town of La Ceja.

Norma Martinez can be reached by email at and on Twitter @NormDog1