Staff from Australia's diplomatic post at Canakkale, near the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, were honoured guests at a graduation ceremony recently. The first class of vision-impaired students had completed a telephone operators' course at the Canakkale Blind Association.
Post had donated software that enabled the Canakkale Blind Association to train its members and enable them to seek employment. Twenty students graduated in early November, having undertaken about 28 hours of training. Eleven of the graduates have already found employment as phone operators or receptionists, thanks to strong support from local government agencies.
The graduation ceremony was attended by two of Canakkale's representatives to the Turkish National Parliament, one of the province's deputy Governors, and the President of Canakkale City.
The project, funded under the Australian Government's Development Aid Program (DAP), underlines the message to the local community at Canakkale, that Australians are grateful to their people for the hospitality they extend to thousands of Australians each year who visit Gallipoli.
The Canakkale Blind Association thanked Post with the presentation of a plaque, and post staff are looking forward to learning about future achievements: the Association has 355 vision-impaired members, all of whom are eligible for the training free of charge.