This morning, her excellency Mrs. Marie-Louise Coleiro , the President of Malta has visited the conference of the European Guide Dog Federation at the Qawra Palace Hotel. Addressing the EGDFConf2017, she has praised the work of the European Guide Dog Federation and the importance of helping authorities to legislate and to educate about the rights of people with disabilities. “To overcome challenges, to find effective solutions, this conference is also an opportunity to develop new friendships and partnerships among your organisations”.
This year’s conference is being held at the Qawra Palace Hotel hosting a group of 48 from 14 different countries such as Sweden, Spain and Italy . In an interview with Mr. Tony Alamango, the General Manager of the Qawra Palace Hotel, he explained how the employees had specific training in advance for the event to take place at the Hotel. He also explained how extra bedding was set in the rooms for each guide dog and that the rooming list also had the guide dog’s name in it.
The European Guide Dog Federation is a European-wide organisation of bodies representing guide dog users and guide dog service providers.
It has been an official Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) since 2007. Currently there are 47 members and in 23 European countries including Malta. Qualified dogs are trained in Malta with their clients. This training is initially carried out by Guide Dog Mobility Instructors (GDMI) from overseas schools but we wish to recruit our own GDMIs who are being sent abroad on a 2-year graduate course. Once this is satisfactorily complete, the instructor will take charge of the Malta Guide Dog School, be responsible for client/dog training, consultation with veterinarians, overseas associations and other responsibilities. They will monitor the progress of a dog-owner partnership at regular intervals and report progress to the Board.
The Malta Guide Dogs Foundation has provided guide dogs to 13 users in Malta and Gozo. It gives training in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) to the visually impaired and is totally reliant on fund-raising. Its major sponsors are the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Knights of St John), the Malta Community Chest Fund, under the Presidency of Malta and Borg Cardona & Co Ltd.
Most of the volunteers who work within the organisation have lost their sight themselves. Thus, they know the needs and difficulties of all those who use the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation’s services.
Nonetheless all the volunteers are fully committed to the tasks and challenges that they face every day. For once the blind are creating and maintaining a service for the blind!
To donate kindly visit http://www.maltaguidedogs.org.mt/
Article and photos: Marion Pullicino