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(Meeww) Meet the model twins who escaped civil war in Eritrea and went deaf at age 7

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Friday, 01 March 2019

Model twins who escaped Eritrean Civil War and went deaf at age seven reveal how their disability is an advantage

Model twins Hermon and Heroda got candid about their disability and how they have grown to embrace and accept it.

By Ishani Ghose 
Published on : 02:46 PST, Mar 1, 2019

Model twins Hermon and Heroda Berhane have been breaking barriers in the fashion industry. The pair went deaf at the young age of seven but instead of viewing it as a problem, they have used it to their advantage. The stylish sisters recently modeled for a new fashion campaign by River Island titled #LoveFromMe project and were more than ready to share about the project as well as let people in on their secret to happiness.  

The project aims to highlight and encourage the importance of self-love and acceptance. It is also close to home for Hermon and Heroda who had fled from the civil war in Eritrea during the 1980s. In this campaign, the sisters will be seen alongside people who've struggled with rejection due to disabilities, bullying, and even a cancer survivor.

As part of the project, each participant decided to get candid on their personal stories and courageously penned an open 'love letter' to themselves. We get to see a glimpse of what Heroda and Hermon want to convey. 

The twins who communicate via sign language and also work as actresses spoke to Femail and revealed how they don't let their disability prevent them from achieving and doing what they want to do and look at their deafness as an advantage. As a first step to this Hermon and Heroda started their fashion and lifestyle blog called 'Being_Her' in 2015 to showcase all the possibilities of overcoming differences and adversity. 

The twins shared, "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 This mindset is outdated, especially in the world we live in today where being different is much more accepted and appreciated."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," they continued. They admitted that accepting that they were deaf was challenging at first but they eventually grew to embrace and accept it.

"We were having a happy childhood like any other children. 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," they added.

"We remember gunshots 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 neighbor by the gates, we saw gunfire in the sky like a star shooting and we all ran inside to hide. When you are young it was a part of life, we were scared but it’s only when you look bad you realize how different life could have been," they revealed.

The cause of the twin's deafness is unknown and they shared, "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," they revealed.

"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."

'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," the twins shared. 

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