The power of a scream
• Nine-year-old Siba Shabeer was coming back home, when she saw a two-year-old’s leg dangling from a balcony.
• The young girl screamed to the adults around her to save the child.
• The child soon fell, but was caught by a person standing underneath.
Dubai: One afternoon in November, my daughter, Siba Shabeer, was coming back from school. When she got off the bus, she saw a two-year-old girl with her leg dangling from the second-floor balcony of the building next to ours.
She also noticed that the girl’s toy had fallen off the balcony, and the child was too focused on the fallen toy to notice the danger she might be in. Thinking quickly, my daughter screamed for attention, first talking to her bus attendant, then the bus driver and then people around her. Once the adults around her, including some passersby noticed what was happening, they quickly went to stand directly under the child.
I am glad my daughter was able to think on her feet and raise the alarm, because sure enough, the child fell from the balcony. Thankfully, there was an adult already standing, waiting to catch the child in case something like this happened. The baby was lucky enough to be caught when she fell. We live in the Al Qusais area, where there are several cars parked under buildings and a fall can turn fatal.
Numbed by safety
I was at work when this incident took place, and when my mother-in-law called to tell me about it, I got worried. After speaking with the bus driver, who was at the scene, I called Siba to ask her if she was alright.
We are blessed to live in a country like the UAE where children rarely experience fear in their everyday lives. Siba told me when she saw the girl, it was the first time she experienced such a feeling. She has always been a caring child, but this incident really brought home the fact that it is not enough to care, one should be able to think quickly and take action when someone needs help.
We visited the family later, as Siba wanted to meet the baby whom she had seen fall from the balcony. The parents informed us that they regretted the fact that they had not paid attention and left the balcony door open. When they heard the ruckus that was created and the screaming of their elder son, who is 11 years old, they realised the grave mistake.
Unfortunately, not ever parent is as lucky as them and parents should really try to take all the necessary precautions, especially when children are young.
We read articles and forwarded messages on such cases every other day and yet, we are ignorant. A small mistake from our side can lead to the loss of a life and it is not just the one life that we lose, the entire family’s life changes. Parents can often be too focussed on academic performance. We also need to train children to have the presence of mind to react to the things they see around them. A child can easily shrug off the responsibility in such a scenario, because they might not be able to do anything. Yet, if they are taught to think quickly and react, it can be the difference between life and death. Being able to take decisions in critical situations is something, I feel that parents in the UAE need to teach children, because our lives are usually so comfortable.
Presence of mind
Siba is about to turn nine, and if I was her age, I would never have thought that the baby might fall. I’m so happy that she was able to alert the adults around her so that the child could be saved. Since the incident, she has received a lot of acknowledgement from her school as well as community-based organisations.