The name ‘Dana’ means valuable pearl. Dana, my daughter, enriches my life and fills it with love and joy. I first realized that Dana had a visual problem when she was 3 months old and I did not understand the nature or the reason behind it. All the doctors said that they would not be able to diagnose her properly before she was 6 months old. When she reached that age, we did the extensive testing and we found out that she was practically blind and could only differentiate between light and dark. Shock and worry hit me as soon as I realized that there was no cure for her and that she would have to live with this disability. I refused to accept that my daughter would be painted in the same light and image I had of visually impaired people. While working on my degree in clinical psychology, I visited several centers with visual impaired sectors, where I saw patients who were constantly assisted, looked sad, were always shy and needed constant care. Instead of learning to rely on themselves they learnt to depend on others. Unfortunately, this was the picture I had painted in my mind linked to visual impairment, and this was not how I wanted my daughter to live, being completely dependent on others. There had to be another way, an alternative way of learning and living.
It took me two months to start dealing with my problem but I did not even know where to start. Where do I go? Who do I ask? It was crucial for me to understand how I will meet her needs. I needed to find a way to translate my world, which I see with my eyes, to her without her having the simplest idea on what the world even looked like. How is she going to play, eat, walk and function like a normal child? How was she going to go to school?
Things changed when I visited my professor from university for guidance who then referred me to Doaa Mabrook. I was told that her son, who was also blind, attended a regular school and was now going to university in Canada. This is exactly what I needed to hear at that point, I was desperate to find someone who would understand what I was going through and would be willing to help. I started to feel reassured and comforted in finding someone in the same situation that miraculously made it work. This was the first time that the image I had in my mind started changing. All that I ever hoped for Dana was attainable; the opportunities she should get in life were still an option and she can have the chance to amount to great things, and be who she was destined to be.
I wasted no time with early intervention, I learned from Doaa what exercises and stimulations I should work on with her at home and was taught how to explain the world around to her in a way that she could understand. Through Dana I found a new way of seeing that I did not know existed.
Then came the difficult stage of finding a school that would accept Dana because of her condition; it felt like I was trying to sell them undesired goods. It was not easy but I eventually found a school that was willing to take and help her along her journey. Even though the school had children enrolled who had other disabilities, they were worried to have a visually impaired child, as they believed that they were not prepared academically to teach and deal with this disability. However, as they saw how well Dana was doing and realized the progress she was making, they adapted a more positive light towards her situation.
Dana is now eight years old and in the third grade at school. She has her own cane that enables her to walk around and her whole curriculum is translated into Braille; allowing her to read independently. Dana brings her laptop and Braille machine with her to school in order to participate as any student would. She plays the violin at the Opera house and is now learning to play the piano too. All her teachers think that she has a special talent in music and is a very gifted girl.