Wednesday, 26 June 2013

IN SIGHT: The Floyd Morris story is one of perseverance and keeping a bright outlook

FRAME OF MIND: "If we dig deep in our reserves we can overcome any challenge that confronts us." Below, the senator takes part in the Best Dressed 5K Run at Hope Gardens in March.

He runs four to five miles each day, plays dominoes, and currently serves as the President of the Jamaican Senate. Yet he's never laid eyes on a single thing since 1989, when he lost his sight completely, at the age of 20. But never his vision of what he could achieve and make of himself. To say the least, Floyd Morris has risen above considerable odds to become a shining example of determination and perseverance in the face of adversity. Sitting down with Profile's Ian Boyne last Sunday, Morris spoke at length about overcoming the trauma of going totally blind at a young age, side-stepping fear and poverty, his mission to serve the disabled community, and how he met his bright and beautiful wife. 

On the shattering glaucoma diagnosis in his teens: When I reached the ninth grade I started to develop problems in terms of my sight and the grades started to plummet. People were wondering what was happening, but they weren't making the connection to the difficulty in terms of my sight. Some individuals in the society don't understand that these things impact on the ability of the individual to perform. And that's part of the thing that has given me the passion and virtual crusade to get the education system in Jamaica more responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities.... I give God thanks that he has guided me to the point where I can influence some of these policy decisions. 

On coping with the loss of his sight in those early days: I was diagnosed with the glaucoma at age 14 and was blind six years after at age 20.... It was really a traumatic period for me because, as I tell people, when you have somebody who is born blind, they don't know what the world looks like; that's their norm. But I was born sighted and then lost my sight in the prime of my life, and so it was very traumatic.... I was depressed but it never reached a point where I said I was going to take my life. 
On rising above the fear and uncertainty and ultimately poverty: I am an arch-enemy of poverty, and when I got blind poverty was staring me right in my face like a man staring down the barrel of a gun. And it horrified me.... because blindness and disability in Jamaica, and globally too, is a poverty sentence, and I said that it was not going to restrict me for the rest of my life. So one of the things I did was to start getting myself occupied by raising chickens 'cause I had to find some means of economic survival.... God has created each and everyone one of us with a beautiful body and mind, and if we dig deep in our reserves we can overcome any challenge that confronts us. 

On his home life today and his happy marriage: My wife is a very bright young lady. For me, as a blind man, I wouldn't have known that she's beautiful, so what I have to go by is the sound of her voice and how articulate she is. She taught me at my Sabbath School, and I would get into her mind. And after I learned that she was single I decided to make my move. She is well accomplished, done her Masters.... The marriage is wonderful. I couldn't be happier. My friends tell me that I've only dated beautiful women, and they believe I am peeping (Laughs). But I tell them that the sighted says seeing is believing, but the blind man says feeling is knowing.

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