Haben Girma would prefer not to be called inspiring. But, as the first Deafblind woman to make Harvard history and living in defiance of great social and physical barriers, it is a term often used to describe her achievements.
Girma developed a powerful path to success despite facing many social and physical barriers. Overcoming all with an insatiable appetite for social justice as well as a wicked sense of humour, she’s become a leading advocate for people living with disabilities.
Girma has been named one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 and was awarded the White House Champion of Change, presented by former President of the United States, Barack Obama.
In her memoir, ‘Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law’, Girma shares how her parents’ harrowing stories of refuge from Eritrea during its 30-year war with Ethiopia inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge; traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging.
Girma in conversation with ABC’s Nas Campanella, retells some of these adventures and explains how they led her from feelings of isolation to conquering Harvard Law.
Haben’s story is a testament to one woman’s determination to show the world the benefits of choosing inclusion.
HABEN GIRMA - “When we put positive disabled stories out there, we are asking people to change their negative assumptions and change their world view”.
NAS CAMPANELLA - “I want a world where no matter where you look, whether it be the catwalk, the shops, your workplace, wherever it may be, that you see people with disabilities living full and active lives. I think, for me, once we change that sort of stigma, then I feel like it will be a lot easier for people to interact with us”.
Listen to her exclusive interview with ABC’s Nas Campanella on Vision Australia Radio in Adelaide on Sunday August 23 at 3pm and Monday August 24 at 8.30pm and across the rest of the VAR Network on Saturday August 22 at 4.30pm and on Monday August 24 at 8pm.
This program was presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas in partnership with the UNSW Disability Innovation Institute and supported by the Auckland Writers Festival.