People of Determination have repeatedly proven to us that they are so much more than their physical or mental disability; they are people with willpower and an optimistic approach to life that few of us have. October is Down syndrome awareness month and since we have many Egyptian heroes who did not let this disease define them or define their abilities by breaking barriers, we decided to celebrate them by sharing their stories so that others can be inspired to follow in their footsteps.
Scroll down to learn all about these amazing heroes.
Mariam is a passionate artist and the first student with Down syndrome to be granted a scholarship to study at the Faculty of Fine Arts thanks to her exceptional talent. She is also a member of the 100 African Leader Program for Entrepreneurship. In addition to her artistic talent, she is a ballet dancer at the Academy of Arts and an unstoppable swimming champion. She won 50 medals, competed in the 2014 Paralympics, and was recognized and honored by Egypt’s Minister of Youth and Sports.
Mohamed El Hussieny is the first and only Egyptian swimmer with Down syndrome to cross the English Channel. In 2019, he was named spokesperson of the United Nations (UN) – Disability in Egypt and abroad, making him the first Egyptian and Arab with Down syndrome to be appointed in this position.
Like many young girls, Heba Atef dreamed of becoming a flight attendant. But unlike many, she made her dream come true and became Egypt’s first flight attendant with Down syndrome. This achievement was part of The Journey of Humanity flight initiative, launched by Sudan’s Badr Airlines and the Smart Mind Training Center in Khartoum, in collaboration with the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
She’s a table tennis champion, a swimmer, a basketball player, a Paralympic gold medalist, and the first TV presenter with Down syndrome in Egypt and the entire Arab region. Rahma Khaled dreamed of earning a spot on television since she was 8.
Yahya Emad is yet another swimming champion, who ranked first in several tournaments, including the Special Olympics Africa Regional Youth in 2016. Another one of his talents is ballet; he ranked first in a competition at the Russian Culture Center. One of his famous achievements was The Four Biscuits, which he launched, along with his friends, Seba Ahmed, Mariam Adel, Sherihan Hamdy, Haidy Adel, and Sherine Salem, to offer job opportunities to fellow persons with Down syndrome.
Dubbed as the “Gold Fish” for her skills and for having more than 200 national and international medals, Lobna Mustafa, who started swimming at the age of 3, is a swimming champion from Egypt’s Special Olympics team. She was featured in a documentary on Egyptian TV.