casa de maria constructionThe documentary “La Casa de Maria Contra la Violencia Domestica” directed by Joe Negron will premiere in the Fall of 2023. It features the story of how Dr. Vilma Luz Caban is working on a commemorative project in memory of her mother Maria.

During her mother’s brave final moments battling cancer, Maria made a wish that her only daughter Vilma Luz go back to Puerto Rico and help her finish what she had secretly started.  The documentary captures how a devoted daughter seeks to honor a promise made to her mother.


The film chronicles her mother’s story as a battered woman that immigrated in the 1960’s from Puerto Rico to New York City. It highlights key points in Dr. Caban’s journey to her Puerto Rican mother’s childhood roots to fix her mother’s “casita” in el Barrio Ortiz en Toa Alta, Puerto Rico.

In this tangled odyssey, Vilma Luz seeks to restore and finish the retirement home that was in total disrepair.  Sadly, like many Puerto Ricans that left the island in search of their American dream, Maria never realized her desire to come back to the island and revisit her childhood “pueblo”in her golden years. This is a common tragic reality for many courageous Puerto Rican women who chose to leave their birthplace and face a strange big city in search of love, happiness and prosperity.

The documentary film shares a personal narrative of a first generation Puerto Rican daughter struggling to negotiate many cultural, financial, and bureaucratic obstacles.  It highlights a daughter’s tenacious spirit seeking to raise local awareness on domestic violence in Puerto Rico.

painting casa de mariaUltimately, a daughter’s dream to fulfill a promise… transformed into a personal mission to launch the development of a seasonal cultural arts cafe in her mother’s dream home.  La Casa de Maria: Domestic Awareness Cafe will host future events twice a year for local women of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. The arts cafe will offer an inviting space to learn about Puerto Rican folklore, the powerful history of Puerto Rican women and their contributions, as well as offer a platform for musical and literary expressions on the plight of domestic violence in the Latino community.

interviews with DV social advocatesCurrently, Dr. Caban is collaborating with several non-profit organizations whose mission is to support local Latino artists, writers, and musicians.

documentary interviews with pastor

The synergistic merge of a mother’s final wish and a daughter’s promise has taken on a new form.  It has blossomed into a daughter’s quest to advocate for the next generation of Puerto Rican women in La Casa de Maria.

For more information about this documentary film project, contact Dr. Caban at


            After filming the final moments of La Casa de María construction, Puerto Rico was hit by two consecutive hurricanes (Irma & María). Hurricane María presented a huge obstacle in continuing my rebuilding efforts of my mother’s dream home. The storm created property damage, and there is still no power or access to water. Digging deep into the reservoir of personal resilience and fortitude, I vow to continue striving to raise funds and complete La Casa de María. I am proud to share that the documentary work experience created promising community partnerships on the island. Next summer, La Casa de María will host its first community awareness events centered on Domestic Violence. We will open our doors in August 2018 to the local women of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico and invite social workers and psychologists to give workshops informing the women about economic options and cooperative microbusiness opportunities to help revitalize their local community. La Casa de María will open its doors to the local men and invite pastors from different communities to have recreational domino nights and cultural music nights sharing ways we can support the heart of the home…La Mujer…y la Familia. Likewise, my research assistant Madeline Garcia and I will invite local artists to play music and coordinate artistic paint nights for the women. The ultimate goal is to create a cultural fusion of community awareness activities that bring some social reprieve to the local families in such difficult economic times. In retrospect, I don’t think it is a coincidence that Hurricane María shares my mother’s name. Hurricane María brought tremendous economic hardship annihilating the island’s electrical grid and crippling the island’s economic infrastructure. The confluence of these devastating blows creates an internal socio-economic storm on the island, and it raises the likelihood of more domestic violence. La Casa de María will serve as a beacon of hope for that local community. It will serve as a platform for community change agents to come and do their part in their battle against domestic violence. Accompanying the documentary film will be a community advocate curriculum titled La Casa de María Contra la Violencia Doméstica, which will be shared with local universities and advocacy forums. It will serve as a professional development tool for social workers attending graduate studies in various colleges in Puerto Rico. The proceeds of this published curriculum can serve as springs of hope for other Puerto Rican communities, so that they can replicate the Domestic Violence Community Cultural Café Events, and economically empowering microenterprise women programs across the islands.

Women who have the most self-confidence have a well-informed view of a strong “intergenerational self”. In turn, they comprehend that they belong to something bigger than themselves. Tapping into the power of my mother’s narrative is an essential strategy that I have personally used as I walk towards my dream. Recently, I was humbled and honored that my story was featured in The Global Woman Magazine in London, UK. I pray that the power of my Puerto Rican mother’s narrative continues to exponentially activate hearts to dig deep and unearth their personal resilience stories. Begin with your mother’s narrative…