January 12, 2017
Mrs. Akie Abe, wife of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan, paid a visit to the Philippine National School for the Blind (PNSB) in Pasay City following her arrival in the country for a two-day official visit in Manila and Davao.
According to the Prime Minister’s spouse, she wanted to visit PNSB after learning of a Japanese national and an NGO worker who initiated a rehabilitation project for the visually handicapped students in PNSB.
Ms. Yukari Ishida, who is also visually handicapped, was a former exchange student of PNSB before returning years later as a project manager for Free The Children (FTC) Education for the Visually Impaired Projects in the Philippines.
According to Ishida, her experiences in PNSB made her aware of the dismal condition of the visually handicapped Filipino students, particularly those in the provinces. This inspired her to share the best practices she learned in Japan, such as reading and writing Braille.
In meeting Mrs. Abe, Ishida sought her help for the rehabilitation of the school’s dormitory and the purchase of a new school bus to replace its existing 20-year old dilapidated vehicle.
Mrs. Abe also became teary-eyed during the question-and-answer portion with the students when she asked what they aspire to be in the future. Among those who answered was Grade 11 student Melaniel Vecina who said she wanted to be a lawyer. She previously earned a scholarship at the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) program in the United States of America.
In meeting the children, Mrs. Abe said, “You have a lot of challenges because you are blind but I know that every single person has his own mission… I hope you will unleash your capacity.”
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