September 1, 2003: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Disabilities: MDA Publications: In 1996, Christa Bucks Camacho began a 27-month stay in Paraguay as an urban youth volunteer with the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Peace Corps Paraguay: The Peace Corps in Paraguay: September 1, 2003: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Disabilities: MDA Publications: In 1996, Christa Bucks Camacho began a 27-month stay in Paraguay as an urban youth volunteer with the Peace Corps

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In 1996, Christa Bucks Camacho began a 27-month stay in Paraguay as an urban youth volunteer with the Peace Corps

In 1996, Christa Bucks Camacho began a 27-month stay in Paraguay as an urban youth volunteer with the Peace Corps

In 1996, Christa Bucks Camacho began a 27-month stay in Paraguay as an urban youth volunteer with the Peace Corps

Meet Christa Bucks Camacho

Caption: Christa Bucks Camacho (left) and her mother, Betsy Bucks, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, talk with former Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

Christa Bucks Camacho taught arts and crafts, literacy and recreation at a school reinforcement program while serving in the Peace Corps in Paraguay..

Making a difference in the world … broadening her horizons … trying what others say is impossible …

Christa Bucks Camacho has never taken a narrow view of the world. At 31, she’s traveled to more than a dozen countries, lived in other countries, learned several languages, edited a book, served in the Peace Corps, worked for a federal agency, become a sought-after public speaker and more.

Bucks Camacho was raised in Arizona in a home that frequently hosted foreign students. After earning a degree in international studies and Spanish at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., where she lived in an international dorm, she set out to see some more of the world.

A wheelchair user since childhood because of spinal muscular atrophy, Bucks wanted to live in another culture where she could use her Spanish and her skills in working with youth. She applied to the Peace Corps.

After completing the application, she underwent a battery of disability-related questions. While waiting for her acceptance she worked for Mobility International USA, researching and editing the 1997 edition of A World of Options, MIUSA’s exhaustive guide to international exchange and travel for people with disabilities.


In 1996, she began a 27-month stay in Paraguay as an urban youth volunteer with the Peace Corps. In Fernando de la Mora, she found a first-floor apartment that suited her needs — except for the front step. She soon got to know the workers building a new sewage system in her neighborhood, and, with a few suggestions from her, they put a little bit more cement here and there, creating a ramp.

In Paraguay, Bucks Camacho learned a lot about emphasizing flexibility in her definition of independence.

"Is independence always being able to do something for myself?" she wondered. "That is a very American view of independence.

"I came to realize that it wasn’t necessary that I did it by myself, but that I accomplished a goal either with assistive technology or through human assistance. I redefined independence to include enlisting assistance from others."

For example, when making the one-hour trip each day to a summer camp she was helping to run, she’d ask those around to help her get on and off the bus. Children playing in the plaza across from the bus terminal were happy to push her over unpaved streets to the camp if she needed additional assistance.

By building networks of friends and acquaintances, she accomplished everything she wanted to, including traveling through Paraguay and to neighboring countries.

"You have to be creative," Bucks Camacho said of adapting to life in a different culture, especially if you have a disability. "It’s about a positive attitude and a willingness to adapt — and a willingness to think about how to get over physical barriers when you have to."

Sharing Resources

While in Paraguay, her primary assignment was working with youth, but she also encountered adults with questions about disability resources. She shared material from home with many eager people.

After two years, Bucks Camacho returned to the United States, settling in Ellicott City, Md. Her commitment to working with young people led to her current position as Youth and Transition Coordinator with the Social Security Administration. She helps ensure educational and employment opportunities for youth with disabilities — and encourages young people to take advantage of international exchange opportunities.

As a public speaker, she frequently shares her stories of how people with disabilities work, volunteer and study around the world. She and her husband, Jose Camacho, whom she met in Paraguay, share his country’s culture with friends in the United States.

She earned MDA’s 1999 Personal Achievement Award for Maryland.

"People with disabilities have an important role to play in the international community," Bucks Camacho believes. "Far too often people with disabilities ignore how they can contribute."

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.

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Story Source: MDA Publications

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Paraguay; Disabilities



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