By Adua Merola
Adua is one of our customers, living in the Moreland area. She wanted us to share her story with you.
I was born with a vision impairment as a result of rubella. This left me with 1/4 of a percent of vision, congenital cataracts, poor optic nerve development, nystagmus & glaucoma. My level of vision is classified as legally blind. I don’t see faces or any of the features of the face but I do see light and dark. Thankfully I haven’t known anything else and the challenges I have makes life worthwhile.
I lived at home with my parents til the age of 9 and they took care of me. Later I was oriented to a white cane by mobility specialists at St.Paul’s School in Kew. I became confident and started going down the street and gradually ventured further. By the age of 12 I began independently using public transport from my home to school and back. Gradually I became more adventurous and there was no stopping me.
Since then I have been rock climbing, hot air ballooning, abseiling & competed at the Olympics in Seoul where I broke the Australian record in the women’s B2 long jump. I also competed in the 100 & 400 meter races and the discus and won a gold, 2 silver and a bronze medal. Classifications B2 & B1 identify the degrees of vision impairment for competition purposes. Although I qualified for level B1 activities (for the totally blind) I chose to compete at B2 level because there was a greater degree of competition for me. These achievement have been some of my biggest challenges.
Although I was managing well with a white cane I had been keen to have a guide dog since 2004 but my personal circumstances didn’t allow it at that time. Ten years later however it was a different story. I was due to have a milestone birthday and what I wanted most was a guide dog. It was such a great joy and achievement when I was matched with Zabrina.
There are many benefits of having a guide dog. It’s easier going around obstacles, puddles and up and down steps and stairs with a guide dog. She protects me from danger and possible strangers. One day, shortly after I got Zabrina, there was a torrential downfall of rain. After getting off the bus Zabrina wouldn’t move and positioned herself in front of me to prevent me from moving. A young women came over and told me there were broken water pipes in front of us and water was gushing all over the road. She guided Zabrina and I around the water till we got to our destination. This route was unfamiliar to Zabrina so I gave her a treat to thank her for good job.
When I got Zabrina she had been fully trained and oriented to my local area but 9 months later I needed to go on an escalator and Zabrina refused. She was prepared to use a lift but not the escalator. Guide Dogs Victoria retrained her till she was comfortable using an escalator.
Another great joys of having Zabrina is that I have managed to stay in contact with Zabrina’s puppy raiser and we continue to meet up about 1-2 times a year. This is an enriching friendship for us all.
Adua is currently taking part in PAWGUST 2018 on behalf of Guide Dogs Australia to raise funds for training and equipment for guide dogs. It would be great if we could help her reach her target! https://www.pawgust.com.au/fundraisers/aduamerola/pawgust