Yasmeen Shawy is a wonderfully inspiring young woman. When Yasmeen was a few months old, she started to show signs of muscle weakness, which was later diagnosed as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a debilitating disease. However, Yasmeen has proven that nothing is going to slow her down from living the way she wants to and achieving her dreams. The talented artist is now getting her bachelors in graphic design and her talent and spirit is memorable among all who meet her, including none other than Amr Khalid. Yams is such a great example of patience and putting complete trust in Allah to overcome hardship.
|1. Tell us a little bit about what you are currently doing.
Right now I am getting my bachelors degree online from the Grenadi School of Design in Australia. I am in my second year and I need one more year to graduate Inshallah. Right now I am doing some freelance work and also volunteer work with Productive Muslim. Design is not just something I do, its one of the most important things in my life. Although I have been challenged by my physical disability I am thankful for the limited use of my fingers and for the technology that enables me to express myself through design. Through my art I feel as able as anyone else… it gives me a sense of freedom!
|2. How did you get to know Amr Khalid?
Amr Khalid recently held a camp to teenagers in Egypt. As you know, Egypt has been going through a rough time and there is so much negativity in the air. This camp was made in order to bring in some positive air to the youth in Egypt. We were divided up in groups by geographic regions and each group meets once a week to work on an ongoing project. We meet with Amr Khalid every three months.
|3. What is the project that your group is working on?
At first we wanted to renovate an orphanage-not just it’s building but also its staff in their approach and communication with the children. We found this idea too challenging, as we could not find an orphanage that wanted to work with us and was open to change. So instead, we decided to create a Smiling Campaign to make people smile more. We especially want to target children in hospitals and orphanages to help keep them positive. I saw this in Australia when I go for my treatments, they have ‘clown doctors’ there who are not really doctors but they go around the hospital and make the children laugh and smile. We are putting up flyers of our designs for the campaign and we are going to make some videos as well.
|4. Mashallah you have such a positive spirit. How does Islam play a role in your maintaining of that positivity?
By being thankful to Allah for my blessings. Ill tell you something. Before I went to that camp, I was in the ICU and close to death. I had pneumonia, which is very dangerous for someone in my condition. It was weird, at one stage I stopped breathing and I was in a coma. I really didn’t think I would make it and I don’t know how I came out of it subhanallah. When I got home, I got on Facebook and there was this video about a man talking about his daughter who had cancer. He was talking about his daughters patience from Allah and how that patience helped them all get through it. People should always be thankful to Allah for their blessings. It was about a week after I saw that video that my mother insisted on me attending that camp. I really didn’t want to go and we were worried because it was in the middle of nowhere and there weren’t any hospitals near it. But my mother insisted it would be good for me and I went and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
And this is my status after I come out of hospital … “I’m back el7!!! 😀 Got over a week full of ups and downs but I don’t think I would have survived it without the power of all your duaa… so I just wanted to thank you all for your prayers and duaas!!! I’m blessed to have such gorgeous people in my life!!! :)♥ and a very special thanks to the most AMAZING mum ever, I can never thank you enough… love you!!!!! ♥ xxx
….. so I guess my time hasn’t come yet and that I’m here for a reason… I just hope that I’m on the right path and when the time does comes I really wish that it is 7osn el 5etaam isA :)”
|5. What do you hope to do once you receive your degree Inshallah?
My dream is to be an Islamic graphic designer. I also want to try to design a few dresses and outfits for hijabis. I really like fashion and would love to do a series of outfits.
|6. How long have you been wearing hijab? What do you love most about hijab?
I started wearing hijab when I was 17. I wanted to wear it for a while before and my mom didn’t want me to rush. But one day I just decided that I wanted to start wearing it. Haleh actually threw me a surprise hijab party. What I love most is that it has become part of my identity… it is a part of who I am and what I believe in. I feel I’ve become closer to Allah.
|7. Do you have trouble with getting around in Cairo?
Alhamdulah I go to Australia every now and then for my treatments and my parents have gotten me an electric wheelchair that makes things easier. As for the city, things have gotten slightly better. We always have to check before we go out that the place is wheelchair friendly. Right now, most of the newer malls and hotels and some other newer places are. However, other than that, houses are not and most other public places are not.
|8. What advice would you give to someone who is younger that also has SMA?
I’ve always believed that Allah that I’ve been given this test to protect me from something (only Allah knows what it is) and is preparing me for something that is worth the wait isA. I know it can get really hard sometimes being patient but Allah never puts a burden on someone which he/she cannot bear. So try to always thank Allah for what you have and ask him to give you the highest level of patience and reda (acceptance) and give you the ability to always smile and put a smile on peoples faces!
Check out the Facebook page for the project Yasmeen and her team are working on here
Here is the video that inspired Yasmeen after she got out of the hospital.
You can also check out Yasmeen’s artwork here
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