It is the one thing that affects us all.  Powered by adrenaline, and fueled by programmed thoughts and feelings, it can bring the best of us to our knees.

Fear is an emotion that I feel I have battled with many times in my life, and I must say, I am getting pretty good at slaying this dragon!  Time and time again, there are challenges swinging my way that can rapidly transform a billowy, kindling fire into a raging inferno!

I recently had the luxury of being visited by my dear friend and neighbor from New Zealand, Tessa.  It was a crazy time in the Hamilton household with Lily staring school, Olivia starting High school, and knowing that we would be up against the beast of trying to get Ruby accepted into any school of our choice in Dubai.

As most of you know, Ruby has Down Syndrome and successfully attended mainstream school in New Zealand.  It was not without it’s challenges, but it happened, and like a fine-tuned orchestra, we all worked as a team to ensure that Ruby was fully supported and accepted within the mainstream system.  It was beautiful….

Here in Dubai, well….we’re up against a completely different beast.

Schools are privately run, and let’s just say they take on a very “entrepreneurial” approach to how things are done.  Most schools are results and money driven.

That is a FACT.

Most schools are equipped with the best facilities and ample resources for children to thrive, including teachers who genuinely want to teach, and make the world a better place.

That is also a FACT.

When we arrived back in Dubai, I phoned nearly every school that existed to get the girls enrolled.  There is a huge demand for places in good schools here, so even getting the likes of Olivia and Lily in was challenging, but for Ruby?  It has been nothing short of a nightmare…..

Most people are unaware of the FACT that you cannot just rock up into any school you choose and enroll your child (despite there being a physical place in a classroom for that child).  Most people are unaware that when you apply, you will be asked for an assessment, and even despite being “good” at that assessment, you could quite easily be discriminated against and refused entry just because of a “label” like Down Syndrome.

I don’t like being the person who has to point this out….I don’t like the fact that while I could be doing something I really love, I have to worry about things like highlighting a system that is seriously living in the dark ages.

I am a mother.  Who also happens to have 3 children, and YES one of them does have Down Syndrome, but doesn’t that still give her the same rights as the other two?

You would have thought so!!

When my friend Tessa arrived, I wanted to take her to as many beautiful places in Dubai as I could.  I wanted to show her the highs and lows, the insane contrasts of this beautiful city….

We explored the heart and soul,

experienced the insane beauty of the vastness that surrounds us in the desert,

and of course, ate, drank, shopped, and beached as you do in Dubai!

When I asked Tessa when she wanted to book to go up the Burj Khalifa, she looked at me, laughed nervously, and said “I’m not quite there yet….”.  It’s funny how we all live in our little glass bubble, and don’t often take into consideration other people’s fears and anxieties.  It hadn’t even crossed my mind that she might not like to experience the panoramic view of Dubai!

Of course it didn’t take long for Tessa to make a decision to conquer her fear of heights once and for all (so proud of you lovely lady)! And in the same time frame, it didn’t take me long to realize that despite the fact that I find the whole school “battle” incredibly exhausting, and sometimes intimidating (rejection is not something any of us like to encounter!), it is a fear that I must face and conquer, if not for my daughter, then for the many others out there who are too afraid to question the “system”.


To rise above it all and gain a different perspective is enlightening…

To know you are surrounded by others who may or may not share the same view is also comforting.  It is refreshing to know that different viewpoints create different realities.

When we are surrounded by the “n0thingness” of it all, we all share a common foundation.

A grain of sand is the base of our foundations, the salt of the earth where we rise up and grow to our greatest potential. It is from this basic principle of nature that we are expected to look after one another and to help each other to reach this great potential, and that is why I believe that something must be done to create awareness for a fair system in allowing all children a chance to attend school here in Dubai.

Dubai is the epitome of this analogy when you realize that it all started with an existence in the ” beautiful nothingness” of the desert, and transformed into something breathtakingly spectacular as the Burj Khalifa!

When we rise to the top, we sift out the filters that stop us from moving past our fears.  It is good to be grounded, yet it is good to fly high and to know that from a greater distance, we are all responsible for the greater picture.

It is possible to leave old perceptions and attitudes behind.  All it takes is a willingness to rise above it all, and to know that our actions all impact one another in some way, shape, or form.

We have decided to train for an upcoming 1/2 marathon to raise awareness for inclusion for ALL schools in Dubai.  It CAN be accomplished, and we believe that it is from awareness of knowing that we are all in some way responsible for one another that helps create change.

Please come and join us for the Dubai Creek Strider’s half marathon.  You can register on that link provided and join our Facebook page at http://tinyurl.com/inclusiondubai  

You can run, walk, crawl or cheer us on to the finish line! Your support is greatly appreciated! Together we can rise above it all and show a united front to create a platform for inclusion in schools in Dubai.

Embrace your fears, follow your heart, live your desires, help create your ultimate outcome!

Please share this blog post far and wide!  Let’s get the support of people around the world to send us their good vibes in this quest!

3 Conversations about
Foundations Rising

  1. Tessa Reply //

    Dearest Steph, you have expressed so accurately the heart and soul of my visit to Dubai. A treasure chest in my heart full of memories of times enjoyed with you and your beautiful family. What a heart felt piece you have written to support Ruby and creating change for our children now and for the future. Blessings and heart felt thanks for your hospitality, friendship and love. The tears rolled down my face as I read the words and viewed your photographs – words aren’t enough. xxx

  2. Nektar Reply //

    Thank you so much for your beautiful comments! Tessa, it was such a blessing to have you here, and Liam, we look forward to seeing you in January from what I hear!! Exciting!!!

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