Widaad Karriem has Down syndrome but she is determined to take part in a Las Vegas beauty pageant.
She just needs help getting there.
The 24-year-old was diagnosed with Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) when she was born at Gatesville Medical Centre.
When a baby is conceived, an egg cell and sperm cell start with 46 chromosomes. The egg and sperm cells then divide in half into 23 chromosomes each. When a sperm with 23 chromosomes fertilises an egg with 23 chromosomes, the baby will then have a complete set of 46 chromosomes.
In Trisomy 21, an error occurs when the 46 chromosomes are divided in half. An egg or sperm cell may keep both copies of chromosome number 21, instead of just one copy. If this egg or sperm is fertilised, then the baby will have three copies of chromosome number 21.
Because of this condition, Widaad is unable to read or write and could not attend a mainstream school, but she can wash and dress herself and is able to identify lots of things, including colours.
She attended Bel Porto School in Lansdowne, which focuses on education for pupils with intellectual impairment, cerebral palsy or physical disabilitie, since age 3 and finished her schooling in 2014.
Over the years, Widaad developed arthritis in her joints so she attends aerobics classes twice a week.
Her mom, Fareeda, says Widaad enjoys doing community work.
“So we often volunteer at Red Cross Children’s Hospital. She doesn’t like to sit still and likes to write even though she can’t read and write.
“She can dress and wash herself, knows her colours and can identify anything. She likes to mimic what she sees and she loves telling stories and acting them out. She really keeps us busy all day with her stories.”
Widaad has always showed an interest in beauty pageants and loves having her hair and make-up done.
At the end of December 2018 Widaad attended a fashion show at the Athlone civic centre with her mom and she put herself on the stage.
Her talent was recognised and her mom then enrolled her into the Shumeez Scott Foundation.
She was crowned Magnificent Women Icon (MWI) Phenomenal Miss Western Cape 2019/2020 at a beauty pageant hosted by the foundation last year.
Now, she has been selected to participate in the MWI/MMI Phenomenal International Pageant in Nevada, Las Vegas in March.
The trip, including air fares accommodation and food, will cost about R100 000 as her mom must travel with her.
Widaad is very excited about the trip.
“She loves getting her hair and make-up done, and she loves shoes and bags. Even though she struggles to walk in heels, she still loves them. She has always wanted to take part in beauty pageants and this is a a dream come true for her,” says Fareeda.
To make a donation towards Widaad’s travelling costs or for more information, call Fareeda at 071 536 0167