Rahima is 19 years old. She is a lively and creative young woman with a big smile. She is a keen photographer and enjoys going out to the cinema, shopping and spending time with her family.
Rahima has mild learning disability and Cerebral Palsy, which means she needs 24-hour care. To communicate, Rahima uses a special computer which tracks the motion of her eyes to form words.
Although her mum is her main caregiver, Rahima has a large family of four sisters and one brother, whom she adores, so there is always someone to rally around her and give her a helping hand.
One day a week Rahima goes to Newham College where, with the help of a support teacher, she takes part in classes including music, art and dance. Rahima loves music, some of her favourite artists include One Direction, Justin Timberlake, Drake, and, of course, Beyoncé, which she demonstrates expertly with a ‘single ladies’ wave of the hand.
A broad smile comes across her face as she mentions Rhianna. “Diamonds in the Sky is my special song.” She says. “I find it calming when I’m in pain.” Rahima’s sister explains that having Cerebral Palsy has meant that Rahima has been in and out of hospital throughout her life. “Everyday is a new day and it’s challenging.” Says Aysha. “There has been a lot of tragedy in her life, but she has come out stronger. She always has a smile on her face. She is an amazing sister to have.”
During Rahima’s school years the family moved house and it took a year to get Rahima a place in a new school. After attending a special school her whole life, she was placed in a mainstream school and the family didn’t feel it gave Rahima the right support.
“I feel sad that my voice isn’t heard.” Says Rahima, “I’m ignored by people who don’t know me. I just want the choice to interact with people more.”
Rahima has been involved with Mencap’s Young Ambassador scheme and campaigns for learning disability awareness. She is keen to get her voice heard and to help other people with a learning disability get their voices heard, too.
Rahima was thrilled to get involved with the Here I Am campaign and loved having her photo taken by top Photographer, Rankin. Talking about the photoshoot, Rahima said, “I felt like everybody else. I felt included.’
“Rahima has always been very photogenic.” Reveals Shilpi, another of Rahima’s sisters, proudly. “She always looks beautiful in pictures.”
Like her sisters, Rahima loves makeup and fashion. In the future, she would like to be a clothes designer and have her own fashion boutique, but she knows it isn’t going to be easy. “I need more opportunities.” Says Rahima. “I’m here and I need more support to be my best. I want fairness, choice and not to be limited.”
Photo credit: Rankin