Many of you know Judith Lesner, our community moderator on the FamilyConnect message boards. She is a mother and has been an advocate for many years for families of children with visual impairments. She also has been a great support to the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) affiliate in the Philippines. Please read Judith’s blog post, where she has given us more important details about how the recent typhoons in the Philippines have affected our friends.
Those of you who attended the last FamilyConnect conference in Costa Mesa know that NAPVI has an affiliate in the Philippines. It is called Parents Advocating for Visually Impaired Children (PAVIC). It is a thriving organization based in Quezon City (near Manila) with groups in various parts of the country. They are the national parent training and advocacy group in the Philippines. They receive support from Resources for the Blind (RBI) and Hilton-Perkins as well as other corporate donations. However, their resources are strained as government support for children who are visually impaired is limited by the national economy.
Just over a year ago, Susan LaVenture and I attended their national conference in Quezon City. I had lived in the Philippines in the 60s and had returned in 1996 for a visit. I couldn’t believe the changes in services for children who are visually impaired. This group had organized and educated their members and had made a great change in what has been made available to these children. We met with some of them again in Costa Mesa and they were thrilled to have the opportunity to come to the U.S. and see what we are doing here.
I have stayed in touch with the group and contacted them after the major typhoon hit the Metro-Manila area in October. The devastation of homes in the area was enormous. PAVIC was holding a conference at the time and they were all trapped in the hotel where it was being held. They soon found out that seventeen families in the group lost their homes and were totally wiped out. PAVIC has been very busy collecting donations and purchasing such basics as food, water and clothing for these families to help with their survival. Individuals and the California School for the Blind Student Council have made donations of money to help these families but more help is needed. Also, PAVIC had previously arranged with Philippine Airlines Foundation to ship toys and educational material for blind children for free. Prior to the disaster it had shipped 8 boxes of new and used toys and educational material for PAVIC to distribute. They are particularly interested in acquiring braillers, braille books, slate and styluses, books on tape and tape recorders for students with visual impairment. If you are interested in helping in any way, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.