My Daughter, My Teacher

November 03, 2011

I taught my daughter words, but in return, she taught me the meaning of these words; love, how to love and be loved, unselfishness and unlimited love. She taught me patience, endurance, tolerance and giving.


Fatma Sakr and her daughter Dina Galal



By Fatma Saqr, mother of Global Messenger, Dina Galal of Egypt


Parents believe they are the only ones who teach their children, but the truth is – in my opinion - is the opposite. Proof of my words is my long story with my daughter, Dina, which goes back 35 years ago, during which, my daughter taught me a lot of things.

I taught my daughter words, but in return, she taught me the meaning of these words: love, how to love and be loved, unselfishness and unlimited love. She taught me patience, endurance, tolerance and giving.

I don’t deny that bringing up Dina was a problem for me. She needed special attention and care continuously. There was no one to help or guide me in how to assist this little girl or bring her up. Though my husband is a doctor, nobody guided us. All we recognized then is that this child will need more effort than a more typical child would require.



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Fatma Sakar cheering Dina

"Don't Lock Yourself Up"

My husband was so patient. He never got impatient with buying Dina picture books, which she used to tear apart. He would still bring her another and she would react the same way, over and over, until she started loving books and asking for them. She loved music the same way. Thirty years ago, her father bought her a cassette recorder so she could listen to music. Again, she would destroy the tapes and he would buy her new ones, until she became fond of music. It was the best way Dina was able to pick up new words; especially from the songs of the late singer, Abdel-Halim Hafez.

During this journey, the horizon was not always bright and clear, but was marred by some mental and physical crisis. And here I learnt the meaning of the word ‘extremely exhausted’; it is when you feel you are working and working so hard, but it is useless, and then, and surprisingly, the results are outstanding.

The fruitful results showed one day when Dina was invited to speak in front of a gathering about the rights of women with intellectually disabilities. I asked to be given time to inform Dina as I was afraid she’d feel uncomfortable because she was aware she was had intellectual disabilities. But on the contrary, she denied the fact, and agreed to speak to the audience. And immediately, she surprised me by putting pen onto paper and wrote her message in her own words: “I want to tell the disabled, don’t lock yourself up. Go out in the streets; we want people to treat us nicely.”

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A look to the future

Overwhelmed, Overjoyed

Dina also played a recital on the piano in front of Her Excellency the First Lady, Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, during the opening of the Rotary Conference, and during the opening of the first Festival for Children’s Cinema at the opera house, and during a reception at the British embassy. She traveled to Lebanon and the USA to take part in Special Olympics competitions in athletics. In Norway, she participated in a student exchange program between the ‘Right to Live Organization’ and a Norwegian school. Dina is also familiar with computer skills, types and prints her own work. 

Another word I have learned from Dina is ‘overwhelmed.’ Yet another word is ‘overjoyed.’ I felt it when she was invited to take part at an Art Creation meeting in the city of Sharjah. Dina was the only person with intellectual disabilities among all participants. On receiving the invitation that day I felt I was ‘overwhelmed.’

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