There isn’t just one word to describe Dina Galal, a woman of many talents.
For decades, Dina has been blazing a trial and shattering stereotypes as a successful woman AND a successful woman with intellectual disabilities. She has long been a role model in the Middle East and beyond.
Born with Down syndrome, Dina was lucky to have strong support from her family, who helped her develop her passions for art, music and sports. When she joined Special Olympics in the 1990s, she excelled in the shot put, which surprised a lot of people.
“In the past, people with disabilities were considered useless and were unnoticed and many people treated them with sympathy and pity. But we can prove that we are ‘able’ and our accomplishments go beyond people’s expectations.”
Dina adds, “Special Olympics changed my whole life and helped me show that people with intellectual disabilities are capable of doing great achievements and deserve just as much respect as anyone else. Just believe in yourself and do not allow a disability to define you as a person.”
Dina trained as an athlete leader and later as a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger, giving speeches and representing people with intellectual disabilities around the world. She was then named a manager’s assistant at the Special Olympics Regional office in Cairo.
Other major achievements followed. Dina was hired to work in the executive office at Egypt’s Presidential Palace—the first person with ID to hold such a position. Says Dina, “It is truly an honor to work for the President and no day is ever the same, each day is different and when I walk out the gates at the end of the day, I feel a sense of purpose and deep honor.”
Dina has also written a book about her life—a tale of resilience and success. She has also given a memorable Tedx speech.
Dina knows her accomplishments have helped change attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities. But she knows there’s still a long way to go. “If we stop dreaming, we die. That’s why we shouldn’t stop dreaming. My dream is to have a welcoming community and for people with intellectual disabilities to be given equal access to education, health, sports and jobs. Together, we can make this dream a reality.”