to lead Nicolas Joassaint, 62, who holds a long stick in his hand.
Joassaint says he has been blind since 1993. He was swimming in the ocean when his eyes grew hot and began to itch. He went to the hospital, where the doctor gave him a shot.
A week later, he could not see at all. He says he doesn’t know what caused his loss of sight.
Joassaint cares for two young boys whose parents died. He survives by begging so that he and the boys have something to eat.
Louis supports his wife and their seven children by working as a handyman at one of the schools of nursing in Jérémie. He says that there is a lack of training and assistance for disabled people.
They are also more vulnerable to human rights violations, he says.
“In 2010, I was attacked by a young woman who had a problem with one of my kids,” he says. “That woman threw a rock at me, which hit me in the head, and I was bleeding. When I went to court, they arrested the woman. But it was not a real arrest, because after two hours that same day, they let her go. There is just no justice.”
He says there is also a lack of respect for the disabled in society.
“There is no social justice for us either, the way they treat us in the street without any kind of respect,” he says. “That is another reason we cannot get assistance or support.”
Louis and several other disabled people in Jérémie formed a group called Rassemblement des Personnes Handicapées de Jérémie in 2009 to help fellow people with disabilities to defend their rights.
Louis says the group has 117 members, most of whom have lost one leg or both legs. Dol and her brother are both members. It functions as a support group, aiming to boost self-esteem and morale among its members. They meet every second Sunday of the month at Hortensius Merlet School.
But members say that more needs to be done.
“For three years now, I am in a group that is organized for people who are handicapped,” Joassaint says. “But as of yet, they have not really helped me.”
Joassaint says he used to make a small contribution for activities for members of Rassemblement des Personnes Handicapées de Jérémie, but the group hasn’t organized anything as far as he knows.
“In January of 2012, they have asked each handicapped person to pay 100 Haitian gourdes [$2] for a badge,” he says. “But we still do not have a badge.”
Badges identify members of groups and organizations in Haiti.
Beyond the group, there is little assistance for people with disabilities in Jérémie.
Gregory Jean Louis, a 27-year-old secondary school student who is not related to Yves Louis, lost his left hand after falling out of a mango tree when he was 12. His family took him to an herb doctor, who reset his