On Thursday, December 29, we received the shocking news of our beloved colleague Mariam’s death. Mariam Al Shafei was one of the oldest and most dedicated team members at SMEX. She was there when the organization was just at its early beginnings, over eight years ago, and has seen it grow and evolve through the years. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our dear friend. Mariam was the Knowledge and Impact Manager at SMEX and holds a Masters in Chemistry.
Mariam was an extraordinary human being, and indeed, one in a million.
In 2016, Mariam survived a stroke that almost ended her life. At age 28, she was temporarily paralyzed and developed post-stroke Aphasia. Mariam lost the ability to speak, walk, write, and read—and her recovery journey took years of daily struggle and toil. Despite these painful limitations and a heavy load only a few people can bear, Mariam did all she could to overcome her condition and create the best life possible for herself. She continued to work with us, organized workshops for people with post-stroke Aphasia, and wrote extensively about her experience to raise awareness about it. Here you can read Mariam’s thoughts on internet accessibility for people with Aphasia.
Below is Mariam’s story in her own words, for only she can tell it.
“On Nov 14 2016, I suffered a massive stroke. Six years ago radically changed my life. But this is also a day that I choose to celebrate. My Re-birthday – a second chance. The date is so deeply cemented in my memory, it’s hard to forget. My journey as a stroke survivor began on that day. I lost the ability to speak and write, which are the most essential tools for my job. I also lost the use of the right side of my body. That stroke left me temporarily paralyzed at age 28. I had taken my health for granted. But my body periodically reminds me that I’m not like everyone else. And although this is a burden, it’s also a gift. I had to re-learn how to walk, write, eat, and take care of myself. I worked hard. But grateful for a Second chance at life. Six years of a changed perspective on the way we should view the world and how we must appreciate even the littlest things.
Everyday is a massive challenge, but I’m here, still trying to fight it.
Thank You to everyone that’s helped me, supported me and never turned their backs on me. I could not have gotten through without them, I am much much better and continuing to improve.”
Although gone from this Earth for now, Mariam left an impact on every person who crossed her path, especially our team at SMEX—and this will stay with us forever. We are very lucky to have known her in this lifetime.