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Maria shares how her life has turned to joy.
Coming from a traditional Greek family, I faced a large hurdle to be ‘seen’ in the Greek community as a totally blind woman. I am happy to say I have faced my challenges head on and I am the happiest I have ever been.
Losing my eyesight in my early 30s was the most difficult and darkest time of my life. I was a university graduate, drove a vehicle and worked full-time when my life changed dramatically.
One night I was a 35-year-old independent woman and the next morning I became a 5-year-old child, relying on others to support my everyday needs. Throughout the next 10 years of my life depression, anger and isolation were my companions as I did not want to face life with no sight.
I am happy to say I turned the corner from sadness to happiness through the support of BSRV. I started getting back into the community through walks organised by BSRV in nature; and through these walks I met other people experiencing vision loss. I was able to create a social network that did not exclude me due to my disability but embraced me for my will to get back to life.
I particularly remember going to the Werribee Mansion rose garden and being involved in a tour that was informative and tactile - and being able to smell the wonderful scents of all the different roses. This day still holds a great memory in my heart, and I would not have experienced this day without the wonderful people working for BSRV.
Today I am involved in regular aqua fitness classes, participate in various walks in our parklands and have joined many food tours, including Queen Victoria Market and a multicultural food trail in Coburg. I also enjoy walking with BSRV volunteer Tammy as part of the ‘Walking with Willpower’ program. We’ve been walking together for more than a year and we get along like a house on fire. We see each other at least once a week and we’ve created a really lovely friendship.
My hope as an Ambassador for BSRV is to raise awareness for the inclusion and participation in all facets of sport and recreation for the vision impaired community.
Let us get out there and join in the fun and meet wonderful people along the way who support, encourage and champion our right to be included in our community.
Maria, with walking companion Tammy, took part in the 'Emerging stronger through volunteering' project. Their video can be viewed below.