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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Blind woman's nine-year battle to earn citizenship for son ends

The woman's husband abandoned her after their son was born, leaving him without a birth certificate

A woman’s nine-year battle to earn citizenship for her son after her husband abandoned them ended in success after the Crown Prince of Ajman ensured he was issued a Moroccan passport.

In 2007, Sameera Al Zaher, 35, married an Egyptian man she met in the UAE, where she has lived for the past 15 years.

She gave birth to their son in February 2008 but her husband promptly signed away his legal rights to his son and abandoned them both, leaving Ms Al Zaher’s son without a birth certificate.

Ms Al Zaher, who is Moroccan, said she has since lived alone and has not heard from her ex-husband in seven years.

“I was working then and I could provide for my son and myself but I couldn't get him any official documents although I tried every way possible but I wasn't successful therefore he couldn't go to school,” said Ms Al Zaher, who hired private tutors for her son to ensure he is educated.

For nine years, Ms Al Zaher has been trying to get her son a passport so he can live in the UAE legally and be able to attend school.

In 2015, Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman, heard a phone call she made to his court asking for help.

“I spoke with all my heart and said all the details and prayed for no richness, not even a job, but only for papers that would enable my son to live like other children.

“His Highness was listening and, god bless him, he ordered that my problem be solved at once,” she said.

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In August, the Consulate of Morocco in Dubai issued a passport for Ms Zaher’s son Mohammed and she was finally able to sponsor him. She registered him at Al Hikma school where he needs a magnifier to see the board as he too is hard of seeing.

Mohammed inherited Ectopia lentis – a syndrome where the lens of his eye is dislocated - from his mother which caused her to lose her sight last year.

“I had undergone three surgeries, the first which was successful happened was in an Abu Dhabi hospital and covered for by Abu Dhabi government, the second went well but following the third, I lost my sight,” she said.

Ms Al Zaher is now studying at Tamkeen, which operates under the umbrella of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai and provides services for people with visual impairments.

“I’m learning braille language and the art of motion, which would help me with my life, but I didn't lose hope in life when I lost my sight, I believe life is what we make of it and I do my best to make it a better life for myself and my son,” she said.

Ms Al Zaher travels around using a taxi dedicated - free of charge - by the Government of Ajman for people with special needs.

“This is truly the country of good, its people and its residents. Where I ever I go, I find a helping hand, in the grocery market, in the mall and in the street, the good people are everywhere here.”