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Disabled Auto Mechanic Inspires Stranger’s Aid

March 14, 2008

If you are heading to Puntarenas or points beyond, jot these two numbers down: 635-0025 and 819-7350.

They may come in handy should you break down along the

Inter-American Highway

in the central Pacific province.

Ring them and you will get Miguel Cabezas, 47, a mechanic based in Esparza, just inland from Puntarenas.

Chuck Shannon, of Esparza, was grateful to have the numbers.

“It was 4 p.m. on Dec. 24 a couple of years back and the clutch on my car went out,” says the Canada native. “Miguel came out and put the new clutch in.”

An unremarkable story, really, until you realize that Cabezas is not any old mechanic. A birth defect left him with a foot attached to his knee, below which there is no leg.

Unsurprisingly, Cabezas says, it was “very hard” growing up.

“I couldn’t walk. I used to move around on a bicycle,” he recalls. However, he says, he was lucky because his disability did not affect him much at school.

“Everything was fine. There were never any problems with other kids.”

Having learned his trade in several workshops around town, he set up his own car repair business five years ago. Because of the difficulties he faces, Cabezas says, “people seemed to think highly of me and respect me.”

He went about his work diligently and gained a good reputation by word-of-mouth.

It was hard work to open his own business, and he needed help.

For starters, he needed a place. The owner of the Tabaris restaurant, located right on the highway, had a small shack next door that was not being used.

“She lent me the workshop,” says Cabezas. “She really helped me.”

In addition, the charity Habita gave him a three-wheeled vehicle, called a tuk-tuk, so that he could go for parts and attend breakdowns at the roadside.

Having his own transport is important for Cabezas’work.However, the motor on the tuk-tuk has given out, and it is broken beyond repair. Fortunately, his brother-in-law was able to lend him a standard transmission car so that Cabezas could still do his job in the short term. It is not an ideal situation.

“I have got this part so that I can use the accelerator and use my foot for the clutch. It is OK, but I need to be careful.”

Shannon says he was touched by Cabezas’ positive attitude.

“He is a decent guy and he is a hard worker. He gets really good and dirty and greasy but he just does not have anything to go to get parts with.”

So Shannon has decided to try to help Cabezas find a new way to get around.

“I was originally going to see if we could repair the tuk-tuk,” he says, “but it has got about an 8-horsepower engine and it is just not worth it.”

The only solution is to get Cabezas a new vehicle. To that end Shannon has set up a bank account and hopes to persuade people to help Cabezas continue to make a success of his business, in spite of his disability.

“I just need something automatic, a little car so I can get around with my tools.”

Shannon is hoping to raise $5,000, primarily to cover the cost of a new vehicle for Cabezas. Any money left over would go toward buying new and better tools.

“It is really not that much money,” says Shannon.

To Help Miguel

Two accounts, one in dollars and one in colones, have been set up at Banco Nacional in Esparza to help mechanic Miguel Cabezas. The account numbers are 1-200-01-027-026848-0 (colones) and 1-200-02-027-003600-2 (dollars). Anybody wishing to help Miguel or looking for more information can get in contact with his friend, Chuck Shannon at ecocla@racsa.co.cr.

 

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