16 years ago, Katja de Bragança founded "Ohrenkuss," a magazine made entirely by people with Down's syndrome. For that, the 55-year-old biologist was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
On Talking Germany, Katja de Bragança speaks about her German-Indian roots, her youth in Goa, and the writing styles of people with Down's syndrome.
The idea for the magazine "Ohrenkuss," which translates literally as "Ear Kiss," came to Katja de Bragança at a conference. There a speaker read a text written by a boy with Down's syndrome that delighted her. She decided to make this unorthodox and original style of writing known to a larger public. By now the magazine, which publishes two issues a year, has about 3000 subscribers. Issues in other languages are planned. The biologist says, not without an element of pride, that, because of her initiative, the way many publications in this sector present themselves has changed radically. She criticises the fact that publications about people with Down's syndrome used to be very unaesthetic and based too much on pity. She wanted to change that, using a high-gloss format and professional photographers.
Katja de Bragança was born in Neumünster in 1959. She spent the first 12 years of her life in the Indian state of Goa, formerly a Portuguese colony. After her parents separated, her mother returned with her and her brother to Germany in the early1970s. She went to a boarding school and after graduating studied human biology in Bonn. Early on, she became interested in the way groups of people present themselves. Katja de Bragança lives with her husband and their family of eight children and six grandchildren in Bonn.