Strength on Wheels

19. September 2014, 14:21
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A car mechanic of Tegucigalpa, Honduras who lost the mobility of his legs due to an accident, refused to be defeated by adversity, and today he modifies cars so that other people with physical disabilities can drive with without assistance

Tegucigalpa. Friday 11:30 p.m., January 16, 2002, a car accident left his lower extremities immobilized. This was the tragedy, but he chose his destiny.

Even though he was destined to a wheel chair, the Honduran mechanic Raúl Arturo Flores decided to take a different road to that of the conformism and despair; he decided to continue with his trade and add one more service to offer to his customers: the modification of cars for those people that couldn’t walk.

Since that night that changed his life, almost thirteen years have gone by and he has been working on mechanics for the last 25 years, which is the trade that provides the livelihood for him and his family.

Having an accident was a possibility that he never had taken into account and when it occurred, "my world fall apart" stated Raúl. He wished to die when he knew the diagnosis of permanent disability and temporary blindness. At the moment, his wife was pregnant of their last son and he couldn ́t imagine how would they be able to move on.

Nevertheless, his desperation was soothed by a reflection: "My family didn’t had the blame of the accident, I was responsible and they shouldn’t pay for this. God was giving me another opportunity ".

The Change

Eight months of recovery, three of which he was inpatient at the hospital, made him to rethink his life. He wouldn’t continue to be an ordinary and common mechanic, he would be a disabled mechanic that would keep his independency in many things, but he would be dependent in other things, and besides, he would create a mechanism so that other people that couldn ́t walk, could drive their cars.

Having taken this decision, he reopened his shop to be able to put into practice the trade that he had learned in the United States. One year later after the accident, and moved by that need to drive his car again, he started to think how he could modify it so he could be able to drive it just using his hands. One week later he already had the design and model, he only needed to test it, so he did and it functioned. He stated that "Each person has the capacity to make things, God gave the human being a super gifted brain", and that capacity is the one that has allowed him to move on in a world mined with difficulties; but with people that are capable of creating opportunities.

"Since the moment that I am in this wheel chair, I have had the strength, I am working, I will always need assistance because my legs do not function, but my heart and mind does function and every day I will continue to move on, because life continues and it is beautiful".

His customers describe him as a simple, working and solidary man, a man that knows how to make racing and tuning in the cars, change wheels, regulate the brakes, modify and install the engines; Raúl also gives another opportunity of mobility to those that can ́t walk, his customers know that in his small workshop located in the neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo in Tegucigalpa, there is a mechanic with the desire to help.

The Invention

Raúl calls harnesses to the car mechanic’s modification, "I have done more or less 30 modifications and there is people that tells me that I have to register the patent, but that is not what I am interested in, what I want is to help people".

This modification work takes a day, "what I do is to place the harnesses, I put a column in the steering wheel and then I installed the devices that I manufacture and those devices are what functions as the legs. The device can be used only with one hand, it excellently breaks and accelerates, and it does not give me any problems".

Raúl is the evidence that a couple of immobile legs will not impede him to continue his journey in this life, "If I was able to face the things since the beginning, now I have to do it". His youngest son is 12 years old and he is his ideal assistance, and together with his wife and two more daughters, are the engine that makes him struggle.

He does not agree that people with a physical disability begs for money on the streets, "if I can work, they also can work, in Honduras the will to work and to progress belongs to you, there is no such thing as the American dream, you have to look for the opportunities", he stated.

And that is how a mechanic in a wheel chair shifted his life, created his own opportunities instead of migrating to other country in the search of a dream that he made true in his own workshop in Honduras, and according to the data of the "Pastoral de la Movilidad Humana" (Human Mobility Pastoral) which offers assistance to these people that have paid thousands of dollars to search the American dream and that every year 20 citizens that have lost their legs or arms in the death train during their illegal journey to the United States return. Raúl prefers the Honduran dream. (Samaí Torres, El Heraldo, Honduras)

  • The mechanic putting together the harnesses that then are going to be installed under the steering wheel. He explains that this work is done in just one single day.
    foto: el heraldo

    The mechanic putting together the harnesses that then are going to be installed under the steering wheel. He explains that this work is done in just one single day.

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