Conchita Hernandez, a native of the Mexico City exurb of Jocotitlán, explains how she struggled to accept her blindness and gain independence. In 2018 she won the Holman Prize that allowed Conchita to convene the first-ever blind-led conference in Mexico devoted to bringing masses of blind people, their families and mentors together in Guadalajara to understand there is an alternative to the traditional expectation of dependence and poverty.
She and her older brother are both legally blind, meaning that they only see 10% of what most people can see, or have 20/200 vision. Conchita tells her emotional journey from diagnosis, to trying to hide her blindness and always being dependent upon others, to finally being introduced to blindness training and the discovery and joy of independence.
Over time, she learned to redefine what she had always know as the stereotypes of blindness and what she could or could not do. She tells how she learned that she could be empowered to make her own decisions and do the things that are important to her. And what soon became important to her was speaking about and teaching others about what is possible with vision loss - particularly those in her homeland of Mexico.
This passion to encourage others with vision loss led Conchita to start Mentoring Engaging and Teaching
All Students (METAS), a US-based nonprofit run by similarly passionate, blind, first-generation millenials who have made it their mission to empower Latin America with consistent, quality information about blindness.
Here's her video she submitted for the Holman Prize, where she is proposing a 3 day workshop in Mexico for blind individuals, parents, students and professionals in the field.
In 2018 she won that prize and is using it to make a difference for children with vision loss in Mexico. Read more about Conchita's journey and how she is impacting children and healthcare across the Southern border.
(Conchita made this "Dispelling Beauty Myths" for Allure.)