Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Creating Happiness

By Liudmila Peña Some people do not believe in auras or good energies. Sometimes, I also doubt about it. It's difficult to believe in what you can’t see; but anyone who sees his smile and lookof eternal youth on his face, as if he had no problems, is convinced that happiness exists: just let’s tell his own life story. He was born in a small town of Granma province, in 1963, where people still tell stories about the devastating hurricane Flora in that eastern region of Cuba. "My disability has always been a mystery. Doctors recently discovered that my mother had visceral cooling, because when she was eight months pregnant, she was exposed to many hours of floods caused by hurricane Flora, in October and I was born on November 26. The congenital fibrous dysplasia I've been suffering from came from that." The home of Abel González Marrero, in the community of Alcides Pino, is a large workshop where solutions are invented for wheelchairs, tricycles and cars, with which he has "manufactured" friendships that last a lifetime. And though his innovations amaze those who do not know him, because of his physical limitations, this "repairman of dreams" has a very simple explanation: "If you sit in a wheelchair and do nothing, your day seems to last 48 hours. However, for me time passes quickly, because I always have a friend round or I am doing something useful. The doctors do not understand why I do not need any medicine to sleep. This job is the best medicine for diseases." An inventor by nature, his love of screws and bolts comes from childhood, when he used to repair the broken toys of kids from his neighborhood. "Since I had my disability I could not play the same games or do the same things those boys did. So, I used to repair their toys and that made me feel good. " Now that game has become a profession. No children or toys are around him, but engines or transportation for people with disabilities like him: "The powered chairs that come from donations solve one problem, but they only work well for the first few months. When the battery fails, the disabled person cannot use it anymore. The purpose of my workshop is to take the electronic hardware out of these means and manufacture a mechanical one. I also turn these powered chairs into tricycles, so they can use batteries from other types of transport and their repairs turn out more functional." And is this your famous tricycle? I ask and he laughs. "This is my great achievement and right now we are going to use it. When its battery is failing I lose sleep, as these are 'my legs'. I was told it was you who manufactured an easel for painter Marcos Pavón, the renowned disabled artist who painted with his mouth ... "I made an electromechanical easel that lasted over 25 years. His parents were growing old and he depended on them for painting. When he had to make a move, he had to wait for someone to come. With the easel, he could raise or lower the painting with a foot. " A graduate in Quality Control at the 26 de Julio Polytechnic, he has manufactured several mechanism to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities, like an elevator so they can attend the "Calixto Garcia" stadium in the province of Holguin, among others. "The elevator is designed without breaking the architecture of the stadium, which allows the disabled to access and enjoy baseball games like other people." As the classical Meñique, he never think "this is too much" when new ideas comes to him. Now, he is planning to build a kind of mechanical shifter and a telescopic gearbox. "My son carries me and takes me wherever I need to go. But to rely on him less, I want to put a beam with electrical equipment in the ceiling above the bed, so that my wife can put a belt on me and the mechanism can take me to the bathroom, which is in line with the bedroom. All without fear of falling, because it would have a protective harness.” "But the telescopic gearbox is the important dream for me now. It will allow me to multiply the speed and strength of the tricycle. My doctors told me this will be a perfect exercise to me, because it's like going paddling. Necessity is the mother of invention. I build solutions, but I want those who need them, to use them well. " Basketball player and wheelchair marathon runner, this man joined, as a drummer, the “Corazón del Caribe” (Heart of the Caribbean) music band, consisting of disabled musicians throughout Latin America. And though his life has been a contribution to human beings, he does not hide his desire that people value ACLIFIM members better: "Sometimes people look at us a little sorry, from the same ignorance. What we need are opportunities to show all the things we can do, because the disabled person is a man with a heart, with a disability which has a special status. There are still barriers to break, creating more workshops where we can develop activities like anyone else, as we have skills and conditions ".

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