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Wheelchair no barrier for rescue worker

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‘There are no words to describe the things I’ve seen,’ says photographer

Being confined to a wheelchair Being a wheelchair user with a spinal cord injury didn’t stop one determined Michoacán man from contributing to the rescue efforts in Mexico City after last week’s big earthquake.

Twenty-six-year-old Eduardo Zárate traveled to the capital after he heard that one of his friends was missing in the Del Valle neighborhood, one of the worst affected parts of the city.

When he found out that his friend had only suffered minor injuries and was okay, Zárate decided to stay on to help in the search for victims.

Civil Protection officials assigned Eduardo — who has been in a wheelchair for the past 11 months — a role picking up pieces of metal from among the rubble at one site. After filling his sack, he passed it to a fellow rescue worker to empty so he could continue to work.

“We were a team,” he told the newspaper El Universal, adding proudly that, “While we were helping, two people got out uninjured.”

At one point while he was working Zárate was photographed and once the photo hit social media, it quickly went viral.

Mexican solidarity: Eduardo Zárate at work in the rubble.

“There are no words to describe the things I’ve seen these days; today more than ever it’s an honor to be Mexican,” the photographer wrote in a caption accompanying the photo.

But despite the attention, Zárate said that at no stage did his condition prevent him from doing the work and he didn’t deserve any special acclaim.

“If Mexico were really an inclusive country, that photograph wouldn’t be on the [social] networks . . . .” he said.

Despite his humility, his actions clearly resounded with others and became another example of the incredible solidarity and strength of the Mexican people in the wake of recent tragedies.

At one stage, Zárate fell off his chair and into the wreckage but undeterred he got up again and continued to work. It was only after more than 24 hours at the site that his body couldn’t take any more and he finally left to rest.

Visibly moved by the tragic events, Zárate recognized the support and love he has received from family members saying that they served as his examples to enable him to do everything he does.

Mexico News Daily – Source: El Universal (sp)

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