As a mother, I hope I never forget the advice that Mariana Camacho Cordero, 29, offers to children in the book “Ticas sin Miedo” (“Fearless Ticas”). She encourages kids to ask away when they see a disabled person in the street:
Talk to them in a natural way, be curious, ask, and don’t go with what adults tell you – because only through questions, through curiosity, through sharing, can we start breaking down the barriers that society itself has opposed upon us.
Mariana was a premature baby, part of a multiple birth, and as a result had cerebral palsy that affected the mobility of her legs and her arms. However, this didn’t keep her from being an active child who crawled or moved any way she could and hated to say “I can’t.” She disliked being separated from other kids and went to mainstream school throughout her education, finding new freedom when she received her first wheelchair in her favorite color, purple.
She was the first-ever disabled student at the Colegio Claretiano in Heredia and went on to study International Relations at the Universidad Nacional, following that up with an additional degree in Politics and Diplomacy. Today, she’s an advocate for disabled women through groups such as the Movimiento Estamos Tod@s en Acción and the Latin American Alliance of Disabled Women. She’s presented at the United Nations in 2017 and continues to work on behalf of the full inclusion of all women in society.
Mariana: I thank you and salute you. And I promise you, the next time my daughter asks questions about people we encounter who are overcoming great odds, your words will be ringing in my ears.
Excerpted and translated from “Ticas sin Medio,” a Kickstarter-funded project published by Dina Rodríguez Montero and illustrated by Vicky Ramos Quesada. Learn more here.