Nothing is going to keep him down

Often, people stop to stare at Venezuelan migrant Alfonso Mendoza, fascinated at the apparent trompe l'oeil as he appears to levitate on his skateboard, the lower half of his body missing.

But it is not part of an elaborate magic act, as everyone can see when Alca - as he prefers to be known - eases himself down onto the ground.

Born without legs and abandoned by his parents, Alca, 25, thought of committing suicide when he was 13, after being bullied in school.

But music and a friend, who helped him swop his wheelchair for a skateboard, saved his life.

The man of many talents often practises with his skateboard in a park in Barranquilla, Colombia, which has become his adopted home after he made a dangerous journey across the border nine months ago.

At present, he is a shining example of overcoming adversity, practising extreme sports, rapping on public transport and giving talks to young people in vulnerable situations.

"God didn't give me legs, but he replaced them with talents," he often says at his motivational sessions.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2018, with the headline 'Nothing is going to keep him down'. Subscribe