It takes two to tango.
And this teacher-student duo sure know how to waltz their way around with an unmistakable chemistry, quite unprecedented, considering one is 72 years old and the other is just 11.
Today, it is heartening to see how the two are inseparable, spending at least seven hours a day together. On holidays too they do fun things like creative art and more.
Life was running in parallel directions for the two until they finally met two years ago. Take a look at this heartening story of a Brit teacher who found her best mate and student in this cute 11 year-old-girl with stunted growth and physical challenges.
Pam Stewart said she has never quite understood what the word ‘retirement’ means. “I tried it three times in my history of five long decades of teaching, only to give it up every time and go back to working.”
And so when she met Saudi girl, Sadin Al Harbi, with multiple physical challenges including a cleft palate and a crooked spine, Stewart knew it would be the start of another sweet beginning. She did not quite realise the extent of how beautiful the journey was to become.
Three years ago, Stewart came to live in Dubai with her son and his family. “I wanted to spend time with my grand-daughter and decided to leave the UK and come live here.”
She left behind a stellar career in teaching that spanned more than 50 years. In the last two decades, Stewart helped people with learning difficulties, thus bringing a wealth of expertise to the UAE. “I just love teaching and helping people. That’s just me, I cannot help it,” she said as a matter of fact.
Two years ago, a friend of Stewart applied for a job interview as a tutor for a Saudi household .The family were looking for a teacher to help Sadin.
After attending the interview, her friend recommended Stewart’s name for the job. At first the family were unsure if the two (Stewart and Sadin) would get along, considering the huge age gap.
“But days into the contract it was nothing but miraculous to see the two get on like a house on fire. Sadin has developed a strong affinity towards her teacher and she has come out looking ever more confident," said Arwa, Sadin’s mother.
“Before Stewart, we struggled to keep a permanent teacher for Sadin. We tried home-schooling her with a number of tutors - both men and women - with vast experience behind them. But she never left her comfort zone and did not gel with any of them. I always knew she was a bright child, we just wanted someone who would bring out all her good qualities. It is incredible the way Stewart and Sadin get along. I am so happy,” said Arwa, Sadin’s mother.
Stewart said she spends at least seven hours a day with her favourite girl, supporting her with Maths, English and Science. “I spend additional time with her at home teaching her the day’s work at school and helping her finish up any homework. Sadin is nothing but an inspiration. In fact she is a bigger inspiration than me, she is a superhero.”
Talking about her pet student, Stewart said Sadin is a meter tall, close to what a three-year-old might look. "She is adorable and plays on her cuteness every now and then,” she said in an unmissable tone of pure adoration.
Clearly this teacher loves her student.
“Sadin has been hospitalised several times. Apart from her stunted she has other physical [challenges], which means she has lived in a hospital longer than most other kids her age. You can imagine how much she has gone through, yet when you see her she is a bundle of energy. Positive, cheerful and happy. She is intelligent and goes to a regular school. I think alot of people would do well by imbibing just some of her positivity,” the teacher said.
Arwa said Stewart had to go through a detailed interview before being picked for the job. “We put her through some screening before zeroing-in on her. The most important thing was to see how Sadin and Stewart would get along and we are lucky they hit it off from day one."
As far Stewart, she said of her student: “We are great friends and yet there is a professionalism to our relationship. When I was first started talking to Sadin, I explained this would be a partnership and that I couldn’t do it without her help. I told her I wouldn’t know how things are working in her brain and only she has to tell me what is going on with her.”
“[I] am truly glad it has worked out so far. Going forward, my job will be to make her more confident and independent. She is a brilliant child and I pray she will exceed in life.”
“I came here to live with my grand-daughter. But since two years, she has gone back to Serbia to live with her mother. Since I met Sadin, I now have a purpose in life to be in Dubai and help turn her into a new person.”