Full credit to Simon Woodings at the Stratford Herald for the below story, which was originally posted in print. We have reposted it here to display it in a format that is accessible to visually impaired screen-reader users.
Listen to the audio article here.
Rabia, Maliha and Muna’s story
Three is a magic number for a Stratford mum when she and her two daughters run the London Marathon on Sunday.
Rabia Abdul Hakim, 50, and her daughters, Maliha, 25, and Muna, 22, hope to raise over £2,000 for Fight For Sight and The Seafarers Charity as Rabia, who is originally from the Cayman Islands, was diagnosed with Keratoconus, a genetic corneal eye disease in 1998 and Maliha who has also been diagnosed with the same condition.
Training has been ongoing for over a year, and this will be the third marathon for Rabia and Maliha who represented the Cayman Islands in the Dubai Marathon in February. Maliha was placed second in her age category and Rabia, who ran with a guide runner, finished 10th. London will be Muna’s first marathon!
“Because of my eyesight, I’m going to be running with a female guide runner” said Rabia. “I hope the money we raise will help find a cure for the condition and raise awareness, and maybe we can inspire people as well.”
She added that vision impairment can happen at any age and believes her vision started to deteriorate when she was five. This was accompanied by headaches that lasted for days as well as eye infections.
It wasn’t until she was 28-years-old that she was diagnosed with Keratoconus, which thins and misshapes the cornea causing blurred vision and sensitivity to light and glare.
“By 2015, I was using a white cane to guide myself around because my sight had deteriorated so badly. I required corneal transplants but my vision is again deteriorating. I’m full of hope and determination, knowing that Fight for Sight is dedicated to funding research for sight loss and is searching for a cure” Rabia said.
There’s also an emotional family reason for running on Sunday. In 2009, Maliha, Muna and their four siblings (all British citizens) were considered missing. They were being held in an undisclosed location in the Kingdom of Jordan by their British-American father. Neglected and abused, they were often hungry.
Maliha said: “Sometimes we’d wait until my father and stepmother were asleep, then we’d tiptoe downstairs to steal grapes from the fridge”
But all of that changed in January 2011 when Rabia executed a daring rescue. After months of careful planning and surveillance, she got her children and flew them back to the Cayman Islands.
Moving to the UK in 2014, Rabia settled in Stratford with her six children, some of whom worked to support the family while she underwent several eye surgeries. The family started running al year ago to commemorate their reunion.
“I settled in Stratford and loved it because it’s so secure. I’m thrilled to be doing the London Marathon with the children. It will be inspiring and therapeutic after the trauma we have gone through. I think crossing the finish line will be so emotional.”