Fatima Saad Al Mohannadi
Award-winning 16-year-old campaigner Fatima Saad Al Mohannadi talks to Q Life about her new book and raising awareness of autism – a very personal cause.
Fatima Al Mohannadi is a remarkable 16-year-old student at Qatar Academy in Al Khor. Her family’s experience and acceptance of her autistic sister has sparked a strong desire to raise awareness about the condition.
Fatima’s passion for advocacy has already led her to write a book titled ‘Ana o’ Haya.’ Q Life met with Fatima to learn more about her inspiring story of personal growth, accomplishments, and the initiatives she has undertaken to make a positive change in her community and beyond. From her award-winning efforts to her commitment to youth empowerment, Fatima’s story is a testament to the transformative power of determination and compassion.
What inspired you to write your book ‘Ana o’ Haya’?
Personally, ‘Ana o’ Haya’ talks about the journey of discovering that my little sister has autism. My little sister taught me the idea of acceptance and that is one of the most important lessons I have learned, which is to accept people as they are. At first my family struggled with the diagnosis, so I decided to write this story to raise awareness and spread it as much as possible to the community.
Can you walk us through the journey of getting the book published?
My one goal when thinking about publishing the book was to ensure that it remained a non-profit project, solely for the purpose of raising awareness. I contacted various bookstores, and after some searching, I found one that embraced the non-profit idea. Eventually, the book was published, and I’m delighted it received support from many people.
Can you tell us about the outcomes you’ve seen from your ‘You Are Not Alone’ autism awareness campaign?
My project ‘You Are Not Alone’ aims to increase awareness of autism. I started this project back when I was in sixth grade because I realised there is no widespread acceptance of awareness about autism. I’m proud to say that it has led to significant changes, particularly in my school, and I’m hoping to expand it in the future. People now have a better understanding of autism. Misconceptions about it being a disease have been clarified, and there is more acceptance in the community. I’m really happy to see that change because of my project.
How does it feel to be honoured with the Akhlaquna Junior Award in 2020?
Winning the Akhlaquna Junior Award was a moment of immense joy for me. It’s an award that recognises ethics and morals. Being recognised by Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser was truly humbling, and I hope it continues to inspire others to strive for the Akhlaquna Junior Award.
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How has the community’s reaction been to your various initiatives and accomplishments?
I have received unconditional support from many people, especially my family. My mum and dad have been a big catalyst to shape who I am today and have played a crucial role in my journey. I’ve also received recognition from various individuals who believe in the importance of my accomplishments, which motivates me to continue these initiatives.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
Winning the Education Excellence Award, specifically the Platinum Medal, has been my proudest moment. It was a tough achievement to get, and I’ll never forget the emotions I felt – tears, smiles, and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.