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Social media has become the only effective tool for anyone to make a difference in Egypt. It has started to become not only a platform where one uses it to have their voice heard, but also a weapon that forces change bit by bit through raising awareness.
Mariam Afify speaks up about a very important topic and problem we have in Egypt: inclusion. In her video, Afify expresses how difficult it is for her sister who has down syndrome to get a decent education, just because she’s different.
‘In Egypt, a child with down syndrome is rejected in many schools because they fear other parents not wanting to have someone like her in a class with their child,” Afifi explains.
‘Or if they do accept them, they expect us to pay triple the amount of what any other child would pay. That leaves parents either with the option of sending their children to public school, paying a fortune, or homeschooling them and not giving them their basic needs of interacting with others and having a normal social life,’ Afifi continues.
Unfortunately, discrimination is a topic we need to raise awareness about in Egypt. We judge based on appearances and fear anything even slightly out of the ordinary. This ends up affecting those with physical differences and labelling them as outcasts.
‘Farida deals with us normally at home. She has friends from her nursery who she can interact with normally,’ Afify explains. It is unfair to strip this child and many others of their basic rights just because we, as a society, were not educated to be inclusive.
When we’re not inclusive, it doesn’t only impact the affected child’s chances at education, making friends and having a normal social life. But, it also affects their basic right of being accepted. When we separate what we like to call ‘normal’ children and highlight the differences, we raise a generation of people who are unaware, fear differences and changes and repeat the cycle.
Afify shares her sister Farida’s horrible experience when her mother went for a school interview and was horrified by the reaction of the school. We’re in the 21st century, and children are still bullied, labelled and discriminated against because of their appearance, their medical condition and our society’s unfairness. It is truly disappointing and horrifying.
It’s time to fight the important battles, to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves and raise awareness on Down syndrome, autism, people with special abilities and many others. When we start with inclusion, we start with acceptance.
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