About 15 million people are considered to be differently abled in Egypt according to the latest statistics. How many of them live with Down syndrome, is unknown, and one of the reasons is that many parents hide their child with the syndrome because of the big stigma around it.
Sama Ramy Wants to End the Stigmatization
Despite the stigmatization, one teen is not afraid to talk about the trials and tribulations she and many others with the syndrome in Egypt face everyday. She is an inspiring singer, ballerina and inspires over 3000 people on her Facebook fan page.
The 16-year-old was denied a chance to study in a tourism secondary school because of her disability. As a result, she was forced to complete her education in a regular secondary school. Sama noticed that disinformation on the syndrom was being spread, when she read that, in the high school biology text book, down syndrome was described as ‘Mongolian stupidity’, the racist and deaf tone term that the medical community had ceased to use since the 1950s.
Her disappointment led to her starting a platform where she wrote a post directed to the Egyptian minister of education and culture, Dr. Tarek Showky, to change the offensive describing of down syndrome, stating that she and her peers are not ‘stupid’, they’re growing and learning. Ramy’s inspiring massage has been picked up by various news outlets as well as influential Egyptian Facebook pages like ‘women of Egypt’ and ‘Copts united’. After her first interview about her initiative, the Aforementioned minister of education responded by promising her to change the describing and term in future editions of the book.
But Sama’s fight for equality of treatment didn’t stop there. The actions she took are being described in a post on her Facebook page: She sent a new message to the officials of the Ministries of Education and Culture, asking them to launch awareness campaigns to change societal perception of people with Down Syndrome and to reduce the harassment they face. Despite the deletion of the “Mongolian Idiocy” from the educational curriculum, it has been associated in the minds of many that people with Down syndrome suffer from mental illness, and should be avoided. This kind of thinking triggers harassment against them in the streets.
Sama is requesting the minster or culture and education to launch an awareness campaigns to change this wring perception. Participating in works of art, such as acting, promotional campaigns, singing, playing music, etc … is Sama’s second demand to the officials. “We have lots of different talents and we have the right to participate in all art and prove to everyone that we are as normal as everyone else in the society, especially after the government has announced that 2018 as the Year of Egyptians with Special Needs,” she said.
In an interview with Mvslim.com, Ramy states that a few days ago, she started another challenge and campaign in which she directly addresses president al-Sisi to change the the term ‘disabled’ to ‘special abilities’ in the law, as it is a more humane description, following what the Emirates did last year.
The road of Egyptian society’s to accept the differently abled and what they bring to the world is just beginning. But the young Sama’s fight for equality and dignity is inspiring the world!