Unlearning and unteaching hatred is a big task to take on, but Farah Sobhi Mohamed is not planning on backing down from that challenge.
21-year-old Farah studies Hebrew at Cairo University’s Department of Eastern Languages. Outside of her studies, she participates in all activities organized by Special Olympics Egypt, whether they involve sports or not. For the past five years, Farah has volunteered with Special Olympics, putting in as much effort as possible into supporting athletes, including her sister Hana who has intellectual disability. In 2020, Farah even joined the Youth Council Leaders, cementing her role as an integral part of the Special Olympics Egypt program.
During her early years, Farah noticed that youth in Egypt and people around her were unfamiliar with individuals in their community who had disabilities. They also seemed unaware of the amazing things that Special Olympics athletes have done all around the world. Special Olympics made this information more accessible in Egypt, amending the community’s misconceptions and changing how young people interact with each other now.
Some of Farah’s fondest memories come from projects that involved Athlete Leaders, especially their first forum in January of 2020. Farah was one of the organizers of the First National Forum for Youth Leaders in Egypt, uniting youth from different universities across the country and changing their concept of inclusion for the better.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, as events and meetings moved to virtual spaces, Farah was undeterred and continued her involvement with Special Olympics Egypt by participating in virtual events like awareness raising activities and impactful lectures. Several times a month, Farah attended a group meeting of Youth Leaders, coaches, and athletes, discussing important topics such as disability awareness, nutrition, diversity and more. Indeed, Farah says that during the pandemic and all the stress and boredom that came with it, “volunteering was one of the most beneficial things that happened” to her, helping her gain confidence and allowing her to help others, even encouraging her friends from the university to join Special Olympics Egypt’s activities.
Farah believes that one of the most important goals of organizations such as Special Olympics is to teach people empathy for others, because without it, hatred takes over people’s souls. This is why Farah wants to help young children realize their potential and make them more aware and appreciative of differences between people. For Farah, it is vital that we accept each other, including the things we do not have in common, because we are all human. She says that hatred is not an innate feeling but something that is taught, so in her opinion, “raising a child and educating them the right way is the building block of any inclusive community.”
“Raising a child and educating them the right way is the building block of any inclusive community.”
After all, that is the goal that Special Olympics Egypt and Farah share: to create a widespread community of inclusion through schools and universities, raising a generation that understands, respects, and appreciates differences between individuals. Volunteering and raising one’s awareness are integral in reaching this goal and putting love into the heart of every human being. According to Farah, that teaching of love is the impact that Special Olympics Egypt’s programs have on the community.
With support from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, inclusion has become embedded in school and university settings in Egypt and around the world. Learn more about Unified Schools and the HHMBZ supported Unified Champion Schools project.