Esteban Quispe, now 18 years old, is one of the young people who marked CATS 2016. His story is a very interesting one: starting at the age of 10, he has been building robots from recyclable waste. As a child coming from a modest family in Patacamaya, the other villagers originally rejected him until he became well known for his skills and talents: he became known as the “Bolivian genius” and as the inventor of the Bolivian Wall-E. Now he works to encourage children and young people to make their dreams come true and change the world. He understands that his work can be an example for Children’s Rights and he is looking into ways to participate more actively on the subject. We met Esteban during the last CATS Conference in August.
– Esteban, this is your first time at the CATS Conference. How do you feel? Have you had a good experience so far?
It is a new and very beautiful experience for me. It is the first time I have had the opportunity to travel abroad. Up until now, I only travelled in my country.
– Why did you come to CATS?
I came because I am interested in the strength and the will of all children worldwide to change the world. Here, at CATS, we build that.
– Did you meet inspiring people?
There are a lot of inspiring people here; actually I think every person is inspiring. Each one of us has their own story, their challenges to face. It’s impressive.
– Is there a specific person that marked you?
Yes, for example, there is Maria Belen, who is a member of the organising team. She is the one who invited me to come to CATS. She often works with very important people, and she treated me as if I was one.
– Your path is extraordinary. You create things from recyclable waste.
Yes, I create robots, I have been doing this since I was 10 years old. I also started to create servers from metal wire.
– How did the idea of creating robots come to you?
The first robot was created in order to help my parents in their farming work. At the beginning, what I was doing was rustic, handmade. One day, a banker got interested in my work. He asked me to repair a motorbike that he wanted to give to his son for his birthday.
– How did this person discover your talent?
I was famous in my village – Pancho Camai – but I wasn’t in the rest of Bolivia. I became more famous because I was selling my handmade inventions in the street. In 2013, people started calling me “the genius and the future of Pancho Camai” thanks to an exhibition on my robots.
I was creating these robots from recyclable waste which could be used in garbage dumps. Today, my aim is to create robots that could separate waste.
– What message do you want to pass on to children and young people that want to build a more sustainable and just world and find solutions?
The issue of starvation in the world must be solved, but I think that it is also important to listen to children and make them feel that they are listened to. Currently, adults make decisions and put the children aside. We should integrate them because they have many capacities and ideas that we can’t even imagine.
– Do you think your path could be an example for young people who want to try and find solutions?
Children in Bolivia know me. Often, when I am in the street, they say: “Esteban, you are the creator of Wall-E the robot!” I try to take advantage of this celebrity to meet these children and talk with them.
I organise small meetings with some of them to make them understand that they can do a lot of things. It is also important to develop the strength and will of children, and I try to make them understand that tomorrow, it could be one of them that will create something incredible for the world. One day, we will say: “Look, this is Victor, who created a living dinosaur!” (laughs).
– What are the two goals you care about the most and why?
Education and poverty.
There is also politics, which links with justice. I have the feeling that politicians have more power than other citizens and that is not fair.
What is the impact of CATS on your life?
After CATS, I think I want to contribute in other places by doing what I already do in Bolivia with children. I meet children very often to pass on my message and I believe that every child has a unique talent, in my case it was building robots. If we are able to demonstrate the importance of the will to do something, we could make so many things happen.