It all started with a knock on the door.
Brothers Janmer, 13, and Maximo, 11, had recently dropped out of school when a travelling education specialist first visited their home in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. Two months later, the brothers, who are visually impaired, were back in the classroom and poised for success.
Getting access to quality education can be a major challenge for children with blindness or visual impairment. But thanks to the work of Perkins International and its local partners, nearly 4,500 children in the Philippines benefited from educational and rehabilitation services over a recent four-year period.
Additionally, Perkins International's partners like Resources for the Blind, Inc. (RBI) offer a full spectrum of services for people in the Philippines with visual impairment, including vocational training, blindness prevention initiatives, training courses for teachers and programs that promote inclusive education in remote areas of the country. Perkins International has provided RBI with funding and technical assistance for more than 20 years.
For Janmer and Maximo, education proved elusive until 2012, when the brothers attended school for the first time. However, their school was unable to provide the specialized instruction they needed, and they soon began to struggle academically. Unreliable and expensive transportation to and from school was also a problem. As a result, Janmer and Maximo were forced to drop out.
Then came a visit from Ludy Anile in the summer of 2013. As a travelling education specialist working with RBI, Anile knew she could offer the brothers a second chance.
"When I first met them, I immediately saw their willingness to attend school," said Anile. "They were excited when they realized that they could go back to class with their sighted peers."
Janmer and Maximo returned to school in August 2013 – this time with more reliable transportation funded by a local church.
RBI also ensured that a teacher trained in special education worked with them under a curriculum tailored to meet their unique learning needs.
Maximo can now read and write braille and is more confident relating with his peers. Braille is more challenging for Janmer, but he is making progress.
RBI Training Director Amy Mojica said the brothers are an inspiration to the RBI team in their ongoing effort to help children with visual impairments in the Philippines.
"The brothers' interest to learn and improve their lives encourages us to continue searching for more children in the community with visual impairment who are just staying at home," she said. "Our experience with Janmer and Maximo reminds us that we are on the right track. Knowing that children with blindness are being helped inspires us to continue our commitment to serving them."