It’s hard to believe we are already in March, one of our favourite months of the year, flowers are in bloom and of course, it’s Women’s History Month. Which women inspire you the most?
Haben Girma. She is an inspiration to people with disabilities as well as people without disabilities. She is living proof that if you are determined enough and if you try hard enough you will be successful. She is deaf-blind and she went to Harvard, the number one school in America.
We are excited to tell you that we have been selected by OkayAfrica as two of the Top 100 Women in the Continent. We are truly honoured to be OkayAfrica honorees 2018. Looking back, never in a million years, would we have thought we would be seeing ourselves as one of OkayAfrica honorees 2018 during Women’s History Month. We gave up everything in order to follow our dream, Being Her was created from ZERO, but also it’s proof that in the modern world many things are possible.
It’s amazing to be recognised for the work that we do.
We are proud to be part of Casetify Beautiful But Tough Campaign.
“We happen to be Deaf, we say happen, because we don’t see it as a disability as, others do. We see it as an advantage! With our hearing diminished our other senses become heightened, therefore our touch, taste and vision can appreciate different aspects maybe a hearing person wouldn’t. . . . We both suffered our loss of hearing under strange circumstances. We were seven years old, playing outside (in our hometown Eritrea) one moment we could hear, the next we couldn’t. We refuse to allow being Deaf to define or hold us back. We thrive on positive thinking, taking up new challenges. We have had many difficult experiences but no matter how many up’s and down’s we experience it always brings us closer together. Our relationship is so strong because we understand each other. BEING HER was borne from frustration. We were frustrated by the Fashion Industries lack of accessibility. For a creative Industry the volume of constraints being applied to who and what can be achieved is surprising. When we feel limited, that’s when we decide to push boundaries. Our aims to challenge the world’s attitude and views towards people with disabilities . . . We never allow being deaf to limit our ambition and disability doesn’t mean inability. We had to do something about it and make our voice heard! We want to inspire disabilities or people that they can make their dream come true. . Being authentic makes us feel beautiful. Imperfections add to beauty, they draw you close, so you can fully appreciate it. Being deaf may be difficult but being scared is the real barrier. If you really want something in your life, you have to take a risk and never let anyone tell you you are weak because you’re a woman! Love being yourself and the world will love you!”
We were invited to be part of the Deafness and Self Care panel at the Women of the World Festival 2018, which was held at the Southbank Centre and were also WOW den judges.
WOW Den Judge: What do you think will change women’s lives for the better?
Thank you to Hannah Poole for inviting us to be apart of the WOW experience it was surreal and exciting, both at the same time. It just goes to show being deaf, anything is possible.
Deaf Women are twice as likely to experience mental health issues as hearing women, yet most “talking therapies” such as CBT are not Deaf Aware, and self remedies such as mindfulness apps or mediation classes only cater to the hearing community. With higher risks of depression, suicide and self-harm.
Think about it, if you were a deaf person seeking help from the mental health services having a BSL/English interpreter isn’t good enough. This approach isn’t working for deaf community as three-way conversations can cause stress and/or misunderstandings. What is needed are trained therapists who are either deaf or fluent BSL users themsleves.
It’s very scary that hearing people from the profession are not aware about the issues surrounding deafness and mental health. This is something we need to discuss openly due to the high risk factor. If there are no BSL therapists or interpreters, how can they communicate? It’s important to make sure everyone has equal access to mental health services.
Any deaf people who feel that they can’t cope with their feelings or are feeling depressed, please go to SignHealth, it is a charity that is making sure Deaf people get the same access as hearing people to healthcare and health information. We have met some amazing people who have made an impact on us concerning this issue and we applaud all their work. It’s time to change now, more awareness, will be better for everyone.
We moved to USA first for several hearing tests, to get new hearing aids and speech therapy, everything we needed to help with our disability. Our mother knew we were going back to Eritrea after one year in USA because we had a wonderful home, our parents had good jobs. However they decided to move to the UK for our-sakes as the UK offered a better education and safety. There was a civil war in Eritrea. As a child we didn’t know where we were going which made us feel anxious and overwhelmed. Without the support system put in place by our parents we would have ended up in a lost world.
Our identity is so important to us because if we weren’t deaf, we would simply not be the way we are now. Life for us would be so different, we are proud of who we are with our deafness. Being deaf hasn’t held us back from doing what we want to do in our lives!
Photos by Nabih Kassam