Blind Earnica Esprit: I Can Still Do Everything for Myself
By Andrea Louis
Earnica Esprit of Roseau is grabbing on to life and living it to the fullest, despite her disability.
Nicky, as she is affectionately called, is currently vice president of the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities (DAPD) and plays blind cricket for the national team.
Earnica was born a healthy, normal baby with 20/20 eyesight. She attended the Social Centre Pre School, the St. Martin Primary School, Dominica Community High School, and the Dominica State College. She even held down a couple of jobs and was living on her own, a fully independent woman.
However, things took a turn in the late '90s following a doctor's visit.
"I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1997 so in 2012 I lost my sight through diabetic retinopathy," she told to The Sun.
Diabetic Retinopathy is a diabetes complication that affects the eyes. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (the retina).
Earnica says at first she took the diagnosis in stride, but it weighed on her more than she realized.
"I would say I didn't take it too hard, consciously," she said. "But subconsciously it was showing on my body because I lost a lot of weight."
From 2012 to now, Nicky says the hardest adjustment has been returning home to live with her mother.
"And then not contributing anything because I am not employed," she added. "So it's like I just went back to being a child."
She is proud to share that she can still do everything she could while she had sight, such as cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes.
"When I am home I keep the house clean," she proudly reported. The only thing Nicky does not do is walk the streets by herself.
Luckily, Earnica has never experienced the discrimination or disrespect that other people in the disabilities community have experienced.
"Actually I find my experience is that people respect me more, especially when I'm on the road and I have my white cane," she said.
Two years after becoming blind Nicky joined the DAPD where a whole new world was opened up to her.
"At first I was resistant when I was approached to come by DAPD," she said. "Then I attended some events and they just embraced me. I learned to use the computer again as a blind person and that is how I am staying in contact with the outside world. I also didn't know blind people could play so many sports."
Nicky refuses to let her blindness be a setback. To date, she is currently finishing up a degree which she started at the Business Training Centre, BTC.
"In 2012 when I was going through my vision problems I was doing a degree in Human Resource Management at BTC. I am working to complete it," Esprit said.
Determined to continue higher education, Nicky also took some courses at The University of the West Indies, Open Campus. Public Speaking is one of them.
This champion for disabled people never misses a chance to advocate for the special needs community. She is challenging the business sector to get on board with the movement of supporting disabled individuals through providing job opportunities.
"The COVID times we are in now cause a lot of people to work from home on their computers," she said. "Blind people can use computers. They are technologically savvy, so when someone is working from home you don't see if it's a blind person or not." Nicky is confident that with technological advancements and medical breakthroughs she will have her sight restored. She continues to have an optimistic outlook on life and her future.
"The future, honestly I would like to be employed as a blind person. I always believe I would get my sight back. I would like to be employed, married, have a family of my own, and just continue to be happy and die happy," Esprit said.