Name: Elnura Emilkanova
Education: IO Psychology with concentration on Orientation and Mobility of Blind People
Occupation: Founder and Project Coordinator, Empower Blind People
Please describe your vision of a world that works for everyone.
My vision of a world is when everyone starts to think about others and takes action toward improvement.
What do you see as the most pressing problems facing the world today?
There are a lot of problems we are facing today, you just name them climate change, poverty, wars, terrorism, illiteracy, famine and many others but the most dangerous for me is when the people are not taking action and losing hope to better future.
How do you feel these problems could best be solved?
Take one action at a time, help one person at a time. It does not take much just start loving this world and everything in it.
My name is Elnura Emilkanova. I was born in a small beautiful country in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan. Attended Russian secondary school and graduated from university with English major. In 2007, electricity shortage changed my entire life. After experiencing the challenge of functioning without light, I started to think about blind people and this is where my journey began. I was inspired by a 16 year old blind girl who taught me Russian Braille and whose desire to learn English motivated me to study English braille and eventually I become an English teacher for blind children. In 2009 I was awarded with the Edmund S. Muskie Fellowship and worked on my master’s degree at Louisiana Tech University, USA. The Muskie fellowship program had a profound impact on my professional and academic development. I had directly experienced a model of excellence in blindness training that I hope to be replicated in my native land. There is no book learning substitute for the intense, direct hands-on learning I had the opportunity to experience. After my return home from the USA, I started to run a non-profit organization and coordinated “Braille Literacy Project” which was funded by the Embassy of Finland. Braille is a key to literacy, leading to successful employment and independence of blind people.
This project was developed to address the deficits in the Braille instruction of low-vision students and motivate current Braille users in Kyrgyzstan. The Braille Literacy program was an effort to show that low-vision students can learn Braille, and improve their literacy by doing so, and to motivate current Braille users through conducting the first national Braille Olympiad. There were four Braille Olympiad winners who had an opportunity to travel to the USA and visited Louisiana Center for the Blind, National Center and attended the annual National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, Florida.
My passion is to work with blind people and empower them. Love to travel and learn about different programs for blind people and bring the best practices back home. My goal for the next decade is to empower blind people by opening the first rehabilitation training center for blind adults with summer programs for children in Kyrgyzstan and open the social enterprise for blind women.
I love to start a day with a morning jog and prayers. Enjoy doing yoga and attend meditation retreats. Prefer to eat more healthy food, drink mostly hot water with lemon or honey and sometimes like to treat myself with good tea like Chai Tea, Massala Tea or Lemongrass tea.
As for books, I love to read inspirational biographies of people, some miraculous personal stories of achievement and success, and the most favorite I love fairy tales. In general, I love everything with happy ending.