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(DailyMail) Model twins who escaped civil war in Eritrea and BOTH suddenly became deaf at the age of seven reveal why their disability is an advantage as they star in a River Island fashion campaign

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Model twins who escaped civil war in Eritrea and BOTH suddenly became deaf at the age of seven reveal why their disability is an advantage as they star in a River Island fashion campaign

  • River Island launched a Valentine's Day campaign focused on loving yourself 
  • Features personal stories from those who've battled with being rejected
  • Love Island's Niall Aslam spoke about not allowing Asperger's to define him
  • Deaf twins Hermon, 36, and Heroda, 36, revealed how they embrace their scars


PUBLISHED: 08:07 GMT, 25 February 2019 UPDATED: 09:14 GMT, 25 February 2019

A pair of twins who have been deaf since the age of seven have revealed the secret to happiness as they star in a bold new fashion campaign.

Model sisters Hermon and Heroda Berhane, 36, who are based in London, star in River Island's #LoveFromMe project which aims to highlight the importance of self-love.

The twins, whose family fled civil war-torn Eritrea in the 1980s, star in the campaign alongside people who've struggled with rejection due to disabilities, bullying, and a cancer survivor.

Sharing a candid insight into their personal stories, each individual has bravely penned an open 'love letter' to themselves. 

Hermon and Heroda, who speak in sign language and also work as actresses, spoke to FEMAIL about how they refuse to let their disability define them and why they see it as an advantage. 

Starring in River Island's #LoveFromMe campaign, London twins Hermon and Heroda, 36, (pictured) who are both deaf share inspiration for loving yourself on their Instagram accoun

Starring in River Island's #LoveFromMe campaign, London twins Hermon and Heroda, 36, (pictured) who are both deaf share inspiration for loving yourself on their Instagram accoun

Hermon and Heroda (pictured) told Femail how their interest in fashion begun at a young age and they decided to start blogging as a way of breaking through barriers

Hermon and Heroda (pictured) told Femail how their interest in fashion begun at a young age and they decided to start blogging as a way of breaking through barriers

The twin sisters who were born in Eritrea began their fashion and lifestyle blog 'Being_Her' in 2015 to show the possibilities of overcoming adversity and the  importance of learning to love their own skin. 

Speaking about the lack of diversity within the fashion industry, the twins said: 'We started Being Her to make sure our voices had a platform. We wanted to share with our audience the barriers we go through every day. 

'We want to encourage and inspire our followers to believe in themselves. There are many misconceptions about disabilities generally and not enough focus on talent and skills. 

'This mindset is outdated, especially in the world we live in today where being different is much more accepted and appreciated. 

'Being deaf may be difficult but being scared is the real barrier. We love using our diversity (deaf, black women) to break barriers and further understanding of cultural differences.

Hermon and Heroda believes the mindset associated with disabilities is outdated and their blog is useful for challenging perceptions 

Hermon and Heroda believes the mindset associated with disabilities is outdated and their blog is useful for challenging perceptions 

The twins revealed their childhood in Eritrea was as happy as any other child but they often had to run to protect themselves from gun shots and explosions 

The twins revealed their childhood in Eritrea was as happy as any other child but they often had to run to protect themselves from gun shots and explosions 

Hermon and Heroda say before they came deaf they recall hearing church bells, chickens in addition to the sounds of civial war

Hermon and Heroda say before they came deaf they recall hearing church bells, chickens in addition to the sounds of civial war

Hermon and Heroda admitted that it took a while to accept that they were deaf as their early childhood was so unremarkable.

'We were having a happy childhood like any other children,' they said. 'Before we became deaf, we remember the sound of church bells, chicken’s clucking, adult conversations but sadly, we also remember the sounds of civil war in Eritrea.' 

'We remember gun shots and explosions, they were so loud it felt like it was in the next room. Many times, we had to hide in the bathroom to protect ourselves and it was terrifying. 

'We remember our mother was talking to her neighbour by the gates, we saw gun fire in the sky like a star shooting and we all ran inside to hide. 

Hermon and Heroda believe being deaf separates them from other bloggers, they were able to gain a following on their blog within six months of starting meanwhile many others have to spend four to five years growing their reach 

Hermon and Heroda believe being deaf separates them from other bloggers, they were able to gain a following on their blog within six months of starting meanwhile many others have to spend four to five years growing their reach 

The twins revealed they gave up everything to follow their dreams of working in fashion as they felt without blogging their ambitions were being diluted by their hearing

The twins revealed they gave up everything to follow their dreams of working in fashion as they felt without blogging their ambitions were being diluted by their hearing

Hermon and Heroda revealed their other senses have heightened since becoming deaf, they moved to the USA for treatment before settling in the UK

Hermon and Heroda revealed their other senses have heightened since becoming deaf, they moved to the USA for treatment before settling in the UK

'When you are young it was a part of life, we were scared but it’s only when you look bad you realise how different life could have been.'

The cause of Hermon and Heroda's deafness remains unknown, and they admit it was naturally difficult to adjust.  

'It took us a while to accept that we were deaf, as children we didn’t know if we were coming or going after several hearing tests in different places, different countries. We felt overwhelmed and anxious. 

'We know what it was like to be hearing before the age of seven and it was difficult to accept that this would be our life from now on. Once we accepted it, we learned to accept ourselves.

'That was the day we learned to rejoice in the journey and celebrate the new path that opened up to us, a path in the deaf and hearing worlds. With culture and the beauty of British Sign Language.

'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. 

The twins say they don't see being deaf as a disability in the same way that other people do, but rather as an advantage

The twins say they don't see being deaf as a disability in the same way that other people do, but rather as an advantage

Hermon and Heroda compare getting use to wearing a hearing aid to getting new shoes, they embraces British sign language and the deaf community after moving to the UK

Hermon and Heroda compare getting use to wearing a hearing aid to getting new shoes, they embraces British sign language and the deaf community after moving to the UK

Revealing the positive aspects to deafness, the sisters added: '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 moved to USA when we were seven because we became profoundly deaf and has babbled speech at the same time, due to unknown causes. They could not provide the treatment that was needed in Eritrea and Ethiopia. 

'We were at an audiology clinic in USA, where my mum found out the result that we were both deaf. 

'They put our hearing aids in our ears which is disconcerting because we didn’t know what the hearing aids were for.  We were confused at first then got used to it after few weeks, just like new shoes. 

'When the doctor in America confirmed that we were deaf, Mum gave up everything and spent a year teaching us how to communicate in English. 

'Then we moved to UK for a better education and we embraced the deaf community and British Sign Language.'

Hermon and Heroda hope taking part in River Island's campaign will encourage other brands to make themselves accessible to the deaf community

Hermon and Heroda hope taking part in River Island's campaign will encourage other brands to make themselves accessible to the deaf community

The twins have aspirations to collaborate with more brands, launch their own fashion range and do motivational speaking to encourage others 

The twins have aspirations to collaborate with more brands, launch their own fashion range and do motivational speaking to encourage others 

The twins revealed why they chose to take part in River Island's campaign which features influencers including Felicity Hawyward and Niall Aslam.

'It’s huge opportunity for us to take part in the RI Campaign, and RI deserve credit for choosing such an important message to send, self-love. 

'We wanted our message to be heard, it’s powerful message to those people who struggle in life. There is not enough self-love in the world today. 

'I think there’s a lot of rejection, self-loathing in life and we want to encourage people, It’s OK to be yourself, it’s OK to look like you look. 

'It’s beautiful to be involved with our British Sign Language messages and we want to educate people what sign language is and how beautiful it can be. 

'Our identity is so important to us because if we weren’t deaf, we would simply not be the way we are now. We are proud of who we are, and our deafness is a part of that. 

'Our self-love letter is one of the greatest gifts we can give to the deaf community especially. 

'The River Island campaign with our inclusion made it accessible to the deaf communities, we hope more brands will take notice and make their brands more accessible in the future.'

Meet the stars of River Island's new #LoveFromMe campaign 

Hermon(pictured) revealed in her self-love letter that she's never allowed the disappointments of rejection to dampen her fire
Heroda (pictured) revealed she's learnt to love her body including scars from keloids which have become apart of her personality
Hermon (pictured left) revealed  in her self-love letter that she's never allowed the hurt of rejection to dampen her fire, Heroda (pictured right) revealed she's learnt to love her body including scars from keloids which have become part of her personality

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