When Nadine Salama’s daughter was born, she immediately sensed that she had Down Syndrome. Beautiful Lara’s syndrome bothered her mother none; and no one confirmed it for a while, “no one told me anything for a week, until her father came to me and told me that although no one else wanted me to know, he had to tell me”, Nadine says, “the worst part is that she had a heart issue and had to have surgery”.
“our family and friends were also very supportive and no one left us because she was different”
Lara’s heart condition was Nadine’s main concern. And as for Down Syndrome, Nadine had help and support, “my husband was very supportive”, she tells, “our family and friends were also very supportive and no one left us because she was different”. However, things don’t stop there, there was an entire society to consider, “as for the community, we don’t care about those who won’t accept our daughter”, Nadine confirms.
Unfortunately, Egypt made things even harder than they already were. Nadine and her husband wanted to start right away with early intervention. This had proven itself to be a lot harder than it seemed, “centers aren’t well-known. Some of them aren’t affordable to everyone, and others are of terrible standards”, Nadine says, “and they confuse you, because each one tells you the one you went to beforehand was wrong. So you have to do your own research and pray for guidance”. Eventually, they got on the right track, “we started early intervention, and we got involved with Zayee Zayyak Organization, which is comprised of mothers who researched their children’s cases and took courses to benefit themselves and others”, Nadine explains.
“if only you knew how beautiful it is to raise such an angel, you’d understand”
One of the biggest challenges a person with Down Syndrome faces is the fact that since they are born, they are discriminated against. Nadine finds pity one of the most difficult things to deal with, “if only you knew how beautiful it is to raise such an angel, you’d understand”, Nadine explains.
This discrimination doesn’t only come from individuals, it’s the culture of an entire society, “we need more awareness that children with Down Syndrome understand the world and know things. They even know they are different”, Nadine tells, “the problem is that we don’t mingle with them. Schools won’t take them because they say their ability is weaker, even though it’s better for them to merge with other kids”.
It is clear that the road is still long for those with Down Syndrome to be recognized, appreciated, accepted and fully integrated into society. Nadine, who is fighting to raise awareness about her daughter’s case, is not only doing it for her daughter. She wants to show that her daughter – and everyone like her – is a beautiful human being who could grow up to be a clever, talented person, if only given the opportunity. Discrimination can’t disappear overnight, but it’s good to know some people are trying to make it disappear. In a world that takes great pleasure in watching people fall, they walk down that road… with love.