Photographed by Ginny Dixon


If you’re disabled in Haiti, you’re ostracized. It’s taboo to have a disability, especially blindness. They don’t embrace you. Actually, this is why Maria wanted to participate in this project. She wanted to show women in her culture that those who are visually impaired can accomplish things and move forward. Maria wanted women to be inspired by her and not let their disability stop them. She wanted to give them hope. Maria wanted them to look at their disability as a learning experience and part of life. Like many others in her family, she was born with retinitis pimentosa. Maria always sat in the front row of the classroom, and still couldn’t see. The doctor prescribed glassed, but she used to fall a lot. Maria didn’t know she had RP. She came to the U.S. in 1985, when she was 15. At 27, a doctor finally explained all the symptoms Maria had had since she was a little girl. And Maria said to herself, “Wow, now I understand. Finally. It was like a catharsis.”

“I believe everything happens for a reason. I think God is using me as a vessel to let others know that even though that they are disabled and going through pain, ultimately, they will be stronger people.”