At first, Noura Nasser appears small and inconspicuous. She needs crutches to get around on foot and she is not much taller than the children she cares for in SEKEMs School for children in need of special care. But appearances can be deceptive: Noura not only has strong muscles but also an impressive personality. The former SEKEM student has already had to go through many setbacks in her young life and has learned to fight and overcome plenty of obstacles. Physically handicapped by birth – Noura’s left leg is shorter than her right one –, she can only move around by herself using crutches. For many years she has, in addition to her physical pain, suffered from the ridicule of others. “In the past we had no crutches and I tried getting around using wooden sticks.”
Indeed, Noura boasts an exceptionally strong will: “My greatest wish has always been to be able to go to school and then proceed to the university to pursue advanced studies”, says the young woman who is 25 years old today. When she received the opportunity to visit the SEKEM School through a friend of her father, she was overjoyed. “The teachers and classmates helped me a lot. If we had to go some place, they carried me or put me on a bike, so I could come with them wherever they went.”
After school, the young woman did not have to wait long for her next challenge. To be able to attend university, she had to travel by public transport, a daily ride of two hours. “I was often approached and asked why I was on the road travelling and not at home. In Egypt, it is still customary for young girls to stay at home. It is not at all normal for physically handicapped people to participate in societal life as equals.”
But Noura did not let herself be discouraged by the many hurdles she encountered along her way. Two and a half years ago, she received her first degree in psychology. Today, she oversees a group of disabled children at SEKEMs School for Special Education.
“The work is quite demanding sometimes but I love the kids very much and they give me a lot of joy and gratitude.”
In addition to her work Noura supports her six siblings, some of which also visit the SEKEM School. Moreover, she is even continuing her studies. Indeed, Noura is looking forward to one day heading an institution that offers psychological therapy. Through her life experiences and the recent death of her mother, she knows full well how important attention to the emotional lives of others is: “I wish to help people better understand themselves and assist them in healing their emotional wounds.”
As compensation for her work, Noura plays the violin and occasionally lifts weights. “If I am upset, I put all my anger into weight lifting so I can run longer distances on crutches. And when I‘m sad, playing the violin helps me to better express my mood.”