My name is Eddy Marco Vives Pupo. I was born in the city of Bayamo, in the province of Granma, Cuba. I studied Veterinary Medicine in high school and started working as a quality control technician in a dairy. In July 1989, at the age of 21, I started losing my vision due to Leber’s syndrome, a hereditary syndrome passed to me by my mother. I soon began to attend meetings and classes sponsored by the Associación Nacional del Ciego (ANCI), Cuba’s organization for the blind.
I started rehabilitation in 1991 at a workshop for the disabled in Bayamo, then, in 1994, I was able to enrol at the Rehabilitation Center in Bejucal, Havana province. In January 1995, I started working as a crafts teacher in the Antonio Suarez Dominguez school for blind children in Camagüey.
Working at the special school required a specialization and, in 1996, I began a degree in Special Education at the University of Pedagogical Sciences in Camagüey, graduating with an Honors BA. In 2004, I enrolled in the Master of Special Education program in Camaguey, specializing in Pedagogy and Orientation and Mobility. When I graduated in 2008, I was the first blind MA in Cuba.
After that and until mid-2013, I was a support teacher in Camagüey, and participated in integration of blind and low-vision children in the municipalities of Esmeralda, Florida, Nuevitas, and Camagüey. Through ANCI, I have also been involved in public education and various research projects and conferences with national and international participants.
Since 2009, my life has had a total change. While visitng the provincial school for the blind in in the province of Holguin, I met two very special people: Tom Dekker and Ken Sudhues, who today live in the city of Victoria. These two men have amply demonstrated the value of solidarity and humanitarianism. Their first and most important contribution was a computer, which has become my main tool. Over time, there were many other contributions and close links of friendship forged, and they have become members of my family.
In 2013, I returned to the province of Granma, and I currently work at the special school for blind and low vision children in the municipality of Bartolome Maso.
The economic crisis, in combination with the continuing US blockade, has pushed me to consider a social project outside of my work at school. So, to address the needs of blind and low vision adults here, I have now been able to realize a long-time dream of opening a halfway house – a rehabilitation center for the blind in Bayamo.
With financial assistance from my Canadian brothers and local contributions of labor and materials, additions were made to my mother’s house and our rehabilitation center was inaugurated on December 27, 2014. This great work would not have been possible without people in the world like Tom Dekker and Ken Sudhues. To them I am eternally thankful.