Hi I am Shaimaa Ibrahim and I believe in the age-old adage ‘where there’s a will, there is a way! Although I was born blind, it never stopped me from achieving goals that perhaps many sighted people are not able to fulfill. Years ago, when I was a child, there was not much focus on this marginalized group of people in society. Despite this fact, my mom was able to put me on the very first step towards success through looking for schools that offer education for the blind in Cairo, Egypt. I joined one of those schools and received an education like my sighted peers but the books were written in Braille format.
Afterwards, I enrolled in Cairo University where I studied English Literature. In spite of the challenges that I encountered throughout my education, I was able to graduate from university, yet I always thought that there is something missing. I desire to truly feel and become included as part of the society, which often has no place for the blind. Although I had a university degree and excellent computer skills, not many employers were able to appreciate that. I decided not to surrender to this discrimination against my disability and being dismissed and disqualified for no reason except that I am blind. I decided to work harder on enhancing my abilities and enrolled in The American University in Cairo to study translation and to become a freelancer in that field.
After some time though, I realized that working as a freelance translator meant hiding behind my computer in my room – that was not something I wanted to do. With the help of one of my friends, I joined an Egyptian company specialized in web and Internet services. My ambitions didn’t stop there; I was looking for that major challenge that can prove to the whole world that I am a capable person. So in 2009, I applied for a scholarship to study in the US and received a Master’s degree from New York University in Integrated Marketing with a focus on Digital Marketing. I was awarded this scholarship despite other applicants who did not have any disability.
Despite family pressure, I took the risk to be on my own for 2 years in one of the toughest cities in the world – New York City. After returning to Egypt in 2013, I found employment at a major multinational company. My personal ambitions go hand in hand with the aspiration of my blind peers and other people with disabilities. For this reason, I joined Helm foundation, where I serve as a volunteer, delivering workshops aimed at changing the perception of the society regarding people with disabilities.