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Christine Anne Pelagio
Indonesia · Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation, Inc.

Hi, My name is Christine and this is my Voice Magic moment. I met Leonora Tiongco-Sunit or Ms Aya, Vice-President of NOVEL (Nationwide Organization of Visually Impaired and Empowered Ladies), a national organisation in the Philippines composed of women with visual impairment which promotes gender and disability rights,  last November 2019 during our Disability Equality Training. Back then, I was a new advocate in the sector and was not yet confident in assisting or interacting with our partner organisations, specifically those with visual impairment. Ms Aya, sensing that I was nervous to approach their group was the first to break the ice. She made a joke. Her simple act of kindness allowed me to relax and communicate with them at ease. Little did we know that that would be the spark that will create a new friendship and a better partnership.

Fast forward to the present, Ms Aya continues to be one of our constant partners in advocacy work. She has become a stronger champion of disability rights and is now more empowered to take on bigger challenges. She is a frequent resource person that we tap in discussing visual impairment with our partners in the private and public sectors. The bond that we formed through the project gave us support to continue in our advocacy work.

As a woman with visual impairment, Ms Aya proved that she is more than her disability. She is also a leader, an advocate, and a friend to many. I am proud to see her now taking on a bigger platform in disability advocacy. For me, that simple ordinary act of kindness, that magic moment with Ms Aya is just what both of us needed to help each other achieve greater heights- work and friendship-wise

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