When Avesta Alani lost her sight, her ambition went with it.
She was only 8 years old at the time. Alani, who is gifted academically, aspired to do great things. But blindness impacted her beyond how she physically saw the world.
“A lot of those ambitions were locked in my mind,” she said.
“They turned into dreams. When you go through something like that, the stigma of society and coming from a family that is new to the country, there is a lot of doubt around you. You internalize that and begin to doubt yourself,” says Alani.
CNIB’s Lake Joseph Centre, a special camp in Muskoka, serves as an essential program that makes a huge difference in the lives of young people like Alani. Affectionately called “Lake Joe”, the camp brings children and their families together to help build confidence, independence and relationships.
After making a personal donation in the past, Peter Nicholson, the President of WCPD Inc., recently requested a grant from the Million Dollar Roundtable (MDRT) to further assist this worthy cause.
Nicholson, who is a member of MDRT, was thrilled when his application was accepted.
“For decades, CNIB’s Lake Joseph Centre has offered a place for these young Canadians to meet others like themselves and build confidence,” Nicholson said. “No child should be left behind due to blindness. Avesta is a true testament to what is possible if we give these children the right support. I’m glad WCPD could help this amazing cause.”
For Alani, it did not happen right away. The initial shock of vision loss forced her to withdraw from seeking help and associating with those like her. The breakthrough came many years later when a teacher finally convinced her to attend a program at Lake Joe.
“It is a camp with a lot of activities – like sailing, canoeing and water skiing, but it is learning between the lines that struck me. I don’t want to be a sailor when I grow up, but I never thought I could sail,” she said.
The experience was so profound that Alani went back the next year as an instructor. Today, she serves as Co-chair of CNIB’s National Youth Council while completing her undergraduate degree in International Development and Globalization, with a minor in Philosophy, at the University of Ottawa.
With the dreams unlocked from her mind, Alani now plans to be a lawyer. But perhaps most importantly, she wants to share her story with all Canadians in the hopes of shedding light on this important cause, so no child is left behind due to vision loss.
For more information on CNIB’s Lake Joseph Centre, you can visit their website at cnib.ca/lakejoe.