By Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor
Dubai: Sharifa heard her father’s voice for the first time — accidently — over the phone when she was 17 years old. But it took the father 11 years after the first telephone conversation to officially acknowledge that she was his daughter and pass on his Saudi citizenship to her.
Though born to a Muslim father, Sharifa, now 29 years, was raised according to her mother’s religion and culture: a catholic Christian in the Philippines. She still recalls how she “accidently” talked to her father, who married her mother during a summer vacation in the early eighties in the Philippines.She was 18 and he 48. Afterwards, he went back and never contacted the wife nor supported his daughter.
“I had kept old (telephone) numbers my Mom has, and my mother has a friend who knew Arabic… So when she called (one of the numbers), he was fortunately, the one who answered. The father was the one who answered,” she told Gulf News in a telephone interview from Manila, where she now works in a diplomatic mission.
“He acknowledged me and sent me money for school (college). We had a great relation, but after graduation, he stopped everything again,” added Sharifa, who asked to use her first name only.
However, it was the luck which came her way once again. She worked at an Arab embassy and the ambassador assisted her in getting in touch with the Saudi Ambassador. The latter paved the way for the girl, who has her parent’s marriage documents, to achieve her goal and receive the acknowledgement of her father.
Last year, she travelled to Saudi Arabia and stayed there for six months. Last year, she observed fast in Ramadan and gradually started learning about Islam from her newly-introduced family.
NOTE BY THE EDITOR: Not exactly ‘Islamic examples of family life’ … Only one ‘happy ending’ out of hundreds…