Fior Mendez is a shining example of a resilient human spirit triumphing in the face of adversity.
Just over two months ago, the twenty-one-year-old was living in an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, watching over her surrogate siblings and dreaming of being a fashion model. On September 7th, just two weeks after having to leave the orphanage because she had aged out, Ms. Mendez walked the runway at Lincoln Center as a model for New York’s prestigious fashion week.
Mendez’ road to New York was blazed through a combination of hard work, fortunate connections, and generosity from strangers. When was no longer able to stay at the orphanage, a good friend of the organization’s founder — Sonia Hane — invited the aspiring model to move in with her in New York City. Hane was able to help Mendez get a meeting with a casting agent, which led her to meet Nzinga Knight, an American Muslim designer with a Caribbean background. The designer said she had no idea Mendez had endured such a difficult childhood when she hired her to walk at Harlem’s Fashion Row show.
“I’m overwhelmed emotionally, it’s a dream,” the choked up young woman told a reporter from TODAY.com, “I couldn’t imagine that a person like me would be doing this in New York City.” Mendez says that she hopes to one day walk for Chanel.
But Mendez has not forgotten her roots. While for now she is soaking in the scene of Fashion Week, working on her English classes and trying to familiarize herself with New York City, she says she can’t stop thinking about the children back at the orphanage. “I want to help homeless children have a voice,” she said. “I want to be a light for those kids, I want to show them that if you are dedicated, you can do something, and that even if you’re sad, you always have hope.”
Read more at The Look