P. Cutajar Foundation to sponsor two guide dogs
A local independent foundation, set up last year to support charitable and cultural initiatives, the P. Cutajar Foundation, is to sponsor two guide dogs that the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation gives visually impaired persons to enable them to gain freedom and independence.
Denis Zammit Cutajar, CEO of P. Cutajar & Co. Ltd, who is a trustee of the foundation, made the donation earlier this month at the site in Ta’ Qali where the MGDF intends to build a new facility for the visually impaired, guide dogs and mobility training.
Mr Zammit Cutajar praised the MGDF for its work among those with visual impairment and affirmed that the P. Cutajar Foundation wished to make this donation public in order to encourage other companies and institutions to support the MGDF.
“I am impressed by the intelligence of these guide dogs and this initiative to enable visually impaired persons to gain freedom and independence to go to work or in their daily life should be encouraged,” he said.
MGDF Chairman Leone Sciberras thanked Mr Zammit Cutajar and the P. Cutajar Foundation for this initiative. “Since the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation was set up in 2006 by the late Ron Colombo, we have been working in the local community to ensure that we reach out to all those who really need our support.
“We supply guide dogs, which each cost €14,000, at no cost to the visually impaired person, apart from training in OM (Orientation and Mobility) thanks to generous sponsors like the P. Cutajar Foundation. We also encourage those who are visually impaired and wish to go through the process to eventually have a guide dog to approach the MGDF.”
Among those present on the day were two other guide dog users, Spira Portelli and her guide dog Bagoo, and Joseph Vella and his guide dog Juno. While Spira has had her guide dog for five years, Joseph has only started working with his guide dog in recent weeks.
Spira, who lives in Zejtun and is partially sighted, said Bagoo gives her confidence and removes all fear whenever she has to leave her home. “Bagoo stops whenever she needs to show me there are steps and knows where I want to go when I tell her that I want to go to particular places in the village. She is priceless,” Spira said.
Joseph, of Marsaxlokk, a father of three, who has been using a long white cane for the past three years, pointed out some differences between using the cane and having a guide dog. “The cane helps you to detect and encounter obstacles. The dog avoids obstacles so you can follow your route more efficiently, often faster and safer than with the cane,” he said.
A guide dog also has two added advantages: you can walk in the countryside on bad road unaided and, when you are out with a friend or family member, the guide dog will follow them so when you are in a crowded place the dog takes over, he added.
Samuel Farrugia, 11, is too young for a guide dog but is looking forward to the time when he too will be old enough to have a guide dog. He said that he does not like the white cane and would prefer a guide dog – “better than a long piece of metal” – that could take you anywhere you want to go and is also company.
For more information, visit www.maltaguidedogs.org.mt.