Om Muahmmad a Student Again, Forty years after dropping out
Enab Baladi Issue # 91– Sun, Nov. 17, 2013
The Syrian Revolution, for some Syrians, was an obstacle that shattered their dreams, or at least forced them to delay seeking them. However, some others believe otherwise.
Early marriage forced Om Muhammad, an old lady from Eastern Ghouta in Damascus Suburbs, to quit school years ago. Om Muhammad pursued her latent and unrealized dreams through her children, who became well-educated.
In addition to taking care of her family and raising her children, she was always keen on broadening her horizons via reading books and novels, and via documentaries.
Forty years after dropping out of school, Om Muhammad managed to join classrooms again with her grandchildren. “I heard about language courses for all levels in a nearby centre; my husband and my children were supportive and they encouraged me to sign up”.
In the classroom Om Muhammad participates with students way younger than she is; yet they all share the same goal: learning. Om Muhammad knows “it won’t be easy for someone as old as I am to learn. Younger students have fewer responsibilities than I do as a mother; anyways, my children are helping me with my lessons, just as I used to help them with theirs when they were kids. My daughter covers for me at the house; she is doing the house work and she cooks for the family”.
Om Muhammad says, with a glimmer of a smile and a mist of tears, that the other reason for her to join the course is the need for a distraction from all the imposed suffering, sorrows and afflictions surrounding her in the besieged area. “One of my sons is a detainee, the other was injured; I need to be patient and strong. We must adapt to circumstances and find a way to overcome troubles and to go on… we must”.
The English teacher spoke highly of Om Muhammad praising her persistence and enthusiasm. “She is the oldest student in the class; yet she is persistent and determined. She encourages other students and corrects their mistakes as well”. “She takes on challenges,” added the teacher, “her courage encourages other old people; they are becoming more willing to learn nowadays”.
“Why now? Why have not you thought of resuming study earlier?” we asked Om Muhammad who answered “I have always wanted to, ever since I dropped out of school! What particularly encouraged me highly and revived my spirit now was reading Helen Keller’s book, reading her own words. She is a brilliant woman, she managed to overcome being deafblind and made a difference in this world. How come she managed to do that and I could not even though I am blessed with health and full senses?!”
As we were concluding our interview with Om Muhammad she pointed out that her goal is to learn and “not that I am preparing to leave to Europe as some people are thinking. I like learning languages; … I wish I could understand all people”.
Om Muhammad concluded our meeting saying a few simple, yet determined, words (in English): “This is my goal!”