Legally blind Fil-Canadian continues to help others
 
 
 
 
 
 

Legally blind Fil-Canadian continues to help others

Elena Laude Aguilar reads her poetry and also sings "The Journey" at the Variety Show hosted by the Canadian Council of the Blind Toronto Visionaries in November 29, 2019. FACEBOOK

Elena Laude Aguilar reads her poetry and also sings “The Journey” at the Variety Show hosted by the Canadian Council of the Blind Toronto Visionaries in November 29, 2019. FACEBOOK

TORONTO, Ontario – Being a person with a physical disability and a “woman of color” is considered a great misfortune and burden. But not to Elena Laude Aguilar, a Filipino Canadian woman who has been a resident of  Toronto for the past 17 years.

Elen or “Mato” to her family and friends, who is declared a legally blind person in Canada’s living standard and working environment, said her “physical impairment is not a personal hindrance or an endless impediment. Instead, it’s a big challenge and opportunity to people like her, especially when they still want to contribute and share their skills and talent to society.

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The native of Atimonan, Quezon  became legally blind two years after immigrating to Canada in 2004. She is an active “white cane user” in her daily activity. Although her disability at times causes some fear, anxiety and difficulties for herself, it is not a total disappointment, she said.

Emotionally stable and philosophically strong, the visually challenged Aguilar cites instances that allow her to bravely “face the world” and pursue her passion to do the best she can in helping others in a similar situation.

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A  graduate of AB Economics and with advanced credits in MA in Economics from Centro Escolar University, Philippines, Aguilar was a college instructor at Roosevelt College-Marikina, National College of Business Administration-Quezon City and Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Manila. She is a current member of the Ontario-based Philippine Teachers Association(PTAC), an organization of internationally trained and experienced educators from the Philippines.

The sight-impaired  Torontonian, who also has been a breast cancer survivor for 20 years, has built an impressive resume while working and living in her adopted country.

In 2008, Elena Aguilar together with FilCan social workers Armela V. Marano and Lailani M. Cuevas, co-founded Durham Centre of Excellence( D’CENTEX), a registered charitable organization in Pickering, Durham Region, of which she is the Secretary-Treasurer.

The Centre provides education, counseling, language instruction, employment support, job search programs, and information programs on Canadian culture and life for landed immigrants, refugees, caregivers, newcomers, and the disadvantaged in the Greater Toronto Area.

The hub also offers integrative community living services for the Blind and Partially Sighted (BPS) and also gives free Personal Support Workers training with a college partner, to address the shortage of PSWs and health care workers in Ontario.

Elen continues to perform community outreach activities as a strong advocate and volunteer for the functional development of blind and partially blind individuals through activities of stimulating intellectual, physical, and social skills for normal integration into community living.

She co-created and served as event coordinator of the  “Amazing BPS Racing Cane Challenge Canada” under the direction and guidance of “Eye Believe Eye Can SEE” (Self-assured, Empowered, Engaged) of the D’CENTEX. It is the first and unique community event in Toronto for the Blind and Partially Sighted(BPS).

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Started in July 2015 with only five diversified BPS participants and 15 sighted volunteers, the event has grown in popularity each year to include deaf-blind participants and is supported by more than 100 volunteers — caregivers, nurses, teachers, police officers, students, seniors, and persons with other disabilities.

The Event engages BPS adults 30 years of age or older who are active “white cane users” and who experience and enjoy fun activities showcasing their orientation and mobility techniques as well as their physical, mental, emotional, and tactile abilities.

Decidedly extending her experience and advocacy work, Aguilar became the founder and executive director of the “Eye Believe Because Eye Can” organization in her home province in the Philippines. On March 8, 2020, she organized the entity in collaboration with the Association for People with Disabilities under the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD) in Quezon Province.

The non-government organization aims “to empower the blind and partially sighted Quezonians to be independent and become valuable members working toward barrier-free environments” through significant and sustainable projects and programs.

Looking to the future and hoping to continue her “personal passion and mission,” Elena Laude Aguilar is fully committed and determined to engage and empower those willing to help themselves “to maximize their potentials and self-worth” and work “towards a barrier-free society built by people with vision impairment.”

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TAGS: legal blindness, people with disabilities, social advocacy
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