Safiya can dream: Blinded by disease, empowered by Taguig education


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Safiya can dream - Blinded by disease, empowered by Taguig education

Taguig City encourages 25,000 graduates to ‘think big, dream big’

Safiya Mundus does what a typical 14-year-old girl does — she gushes over her favorite idols on television, hangs out with her friends. But unlike girls her age, Safiya cannot see them.

The Grade 6 student was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when she was only 2 months old, a rare cancer that develops from immature cells of a retina. To save their daughter, Safiya’s parents had both her eyes removed when she was only six months old. Now, Safiya is totally blind and only uses prosthetic eyes for cosmetic enhancement.

But her disability did not prevent her from pursuing her dreams.

The 14-year-old girl graduated on April 4, Wednesday, from Eusebio C. Santos Elementary School in Taguig, which has a program for visually impaired students. She is among the 25,374 graduates and completers in Taguig this school year 2017 to 2018.

To ensure a hassle-free graduation, the local government will be providing all the needs of the graduates and completers. And as a yearly practice, there is also a live broadcast of all graduation and completion events in every public school in Taguig on YouTube and shared on the official Facebook page of the city (I Love Taguig). Pioneered in the city in 2012, the e-graduation live streams on the Internet the graduation rites so relatives abroad and outside Taguig can view the event on the Web.

After her graduation, Safiya will enroll as a Grade 7 student.

“Masaya kami kasi kinaya niya. Masaya talaga kami,” Teresa Gonzales, Safiya’s mother, gushed.

For Teresa, her daughter has indeed come a long way.

She remembers how she would teach Safiya at home after her eye operation to prevent others from bullying her and discriminating against her in school. It was only in February 2016 when she took Safiya to the outside world and enrolled her in a Braille tutorial.

“Gusto niya talagang matutong magbasa kaya ayun,” Teresa said. In June, she enrolled Safiya at Eusebio as a Grade 1 student.

Driven as the child was, Teresa recalls how Safiya took the Department of Education’s Philippine Educational Placement Test and was accelerated to Grade 3 in the same year. She took the PEPT again in January, and the rest was history.

“So dito talaga sa (Eusebio) napakalaki ng mga nagawa para sa kaniya. Ang dami niyang naachieve dito since pumasok siya,” Teresa said.

The once-shy Safiya said she now likes playing chess and goalball with her very supportive classmates. She also likes reading books and studying English.

“Masaya po. Madami pong friends, at nakakaenjoy pong mag-aral,” Safiya said. Apart from the school, Teresa said she has the city government to thank for its programs for students.

Taguigeño students receive a complete set of notebooks, pencils and ballpens. Additional items such as sharpeners, crayons, a pair of scissors, pad papers and health kits (for pre-schoolers up to Grade 3) are also given to grade schoolers, while “grab bags” or emergency kits are also provided to elementary students.

These are apart from the school buildings and daycare centers that have been renovated or newly-constructed to ensure that the facilities are child-friendly and conducive to learning.

In 2017, there was also an increase in the allowances of scholars under the city’s scholarship programs — Lifeline Assistance for Neighbors In-need (LANI) and Taguig Learners’ Certificate (TLC).

The city’s top spot in the National Achievement Test (NAT) for the elementary and high school levels for two consecutive years, in 2014 and 2015, can be attributed to all the investments of Taguig in education.

“Napakalaki po ng pasasalamat namin kay Mayor Lani Cayetano. Napakarami ng naitutulong niya sa lahat ng estudyante, hindi lang sa mga estudyante, sa lahat ng mga nakatira dito sa Taguig,” Teresa said.

Her graduation day, Safiya said, will only mean she is a step closer to her dream of becoming a social worker for the blind. The student considers this as her way to share her blessings to those with similar disabilities. ###

FILIPINO VERSION:

Taguig City hinimok ang 25,000 graduates na mag ‘think big, dream big’

Kagaya ni Safiya: Nangarap at nagtagumpay sa tulong ng programang edukasyon sa Taguig

Ang katorse anyos na si Safiya Mundus ay walang pinag-iba sa ibang kabataan–kinikilig sa paboritong artista sa TV, lumalabas kasama ang mga kaibigan subalit ang kakaiba nito ay hindi niya lahat ito nakikita dahil sa kanyang karamdaman.

Noong dalawang buwan pa lamang siya, nakitaan si Safiya ng sakit na retinoblastoma, isang kakaibang klase ng cancer na dumapo sa retina ng kanyang mata.

Upang hindi na kumalat pa ang cancer, nagdesisyon ang kanyang mga magulang na alisin na lamang ng mga doktor ang dalawa niyang mata noong siya ay anim na buwan pa lamang.

Ngayong Grade 6 na si Safiya, gumagamit na lamang siya ng prosthetic na mga mata para na lamang sa cosmetic enhancement.

Subalit sa kabila ng kapansanan ay hindi naging hadlang para kay Safiya na abutin ang kanyang pangarap.

Si Safiya ay nakatapos na ng elementarya noong graduation day, Abril 4, Miyerkules, sa Eusebio C. Santos Elementary School sa Taguig, kung saan ang lokal na pamahalaan ay may programa para sa mga bulag o visually impaired na estudyante. Kasama siya sa 25,374 graduates at completers sa Taguig ngayong school year 2017 – 2018.

Upang masiguro ang graduation ng mga estudyante, ang lokal na pamahalaan ng Taguig ay nagbibigay ng mga pangangailangan ng mga magtatapos. At bilang taunang ginagawa, magkakaroon muli ng live broadcast sa YouTube ang martsa at iba pang graduation rites ng mga estudyante sa bawat public school sa Taguig sa official Facebook page ng lungsod (I Love Taguig).

Sinimulan noong 2012 ng Taguig, ang tinatawag na e-graduation live streams sa Internet ay ginawa upang pati ang mga kaanak o mga magulang na OFW sa ibang bansa o sa probinsya ay makapanood ng pagtatapos ng kanilang mag-aaral na kamag-anak in real time.

Matapos naman ang kanyang graduation, si Safiya ay mage-enroll na sa Grade 7.

“Masaya kami kasi kinaya niya. Masaya talaga kami,” wika nga kanyang ina na si Teresa Gonzales.

Para kay Teresa, malayo na ang narating na pangarap ng kanyang mahal na anak.

Naalala pa ng ina kung papaano niya turuan na mag-aral ang anak sa loob na lamang ng kanilang bahay upang maiwasang ma-bully sa eskwelahan.

Nito lamang Pebrero 2016 kung saan sinimulan ni Teresa dalhin ang anak sa tunay na mundo nang ipasok niya ito sa Braille tutorial.

“Gusto niya talagang matutong magbasa kaya ayun,” sambit pa ni Teresa. Noong June, si Safiya ay na-enrol ng ina sa Eusebio bilang Grade 1 student.

Sa pagpupursige ng bata, nakita ni Teresa ang potensyal ng anak kaya naman kumuha ang estudyante ng Department of Education Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) at na-accelerate siya sa Grade 3 noon ding taon. Kumuha muli siya ng PEPT at noong Enero ay kanya muli itong pinasa.

“So dito talaga sa (Eusebio) napakalaki ng mga nagawa para sa kaniya. Ang dami niyang naachieve dito since pumasok siya,” dagdag pa ni Teresa.

Mula mahiyain at tahimik, ngayon ay mahilig na si Safiya na maglaro ng chess at goalball kasama ang kanyang mga sumusuportang kaklase. Mahilig din siyang magbasa ng libro at mag-aral ng English.

“Masaya po. Madami pong friends, at nakakaenjoy pong mag-aral,” saad naman ni Safiya.

Malaki naman ang pasasalamat ng inang si Teresa dahil sa malawak ang tunay na serbisyo ng Taguig City government sa mga programa para sa mga taong may kapansanan subalit nais makatapos ng pagaaral.

Kasama sa programa, ang mga estudyanteng Taguigeño ay nakakakuha ng kumpletong set ng notebooks, lapis at ballpens. Kasama sa ipinamimigay ang pantasa, krayola, gunting, pad papers at health kits (para sa pre-schoolers hanggang Grade 3) sa bawat grade schoolers, samantalang mga  “grab bags” o emergency kits ay ibinabahagi din sa elementary students.

Bukod pa rito ang mga bago at fully equipped na mga school buildings at daycare centers ay pinaganda upang ang mga facilities nito ay child-friendly at maayos sa mga mag-aaral.

Noong 2017, itinaas din ang halaga ng allowances ng scholars sa ilalim ng city scholarship programs — Lifeline Assistance for Neighbors In-need (LANI) at ang Taguig Learners’ Certificate (TLC).

Nagresulta rin ito ng pag-top ng Taguig sa National Achievement Test (NAT) para sa elementary at high school levels sa dalawang magkasunod na taon, 2014 at 2015.

“Napakalaki po ng pasasalamat namin kay Mayor Lani Cayetano. Napakarami ng naitutulong niya sa lahat ng estudyante, hindi lang sa mga estudyante, sa lahat ng mga nakatira dito sa Taguig,” wika ni Teresa.

Sa kanyang graduation day, wika ni Safiya na lumalapit na talaga ang pagkamit ng kanyang pangarap na maging isang social worker para sa mga bulag.

Ito rin ay bilang pagtanaw ng utang na loob sa mga biyayang kanyang nakamit at maibahagi sa mga kagaya niyang mga bulag. ###


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