Haben: The deafblind woman who conquered Harvard Law


Haben: The deafblind woman who conquered Harvard Law

Here’s a compelling biography that not only tells the story about how a young woman achieves through adversity to find her cause in life, but it’s also a book filled with valuable lessons. But don’t let the idea that you’re in for a schooling fool you; this is a story that draws you into a world that most could not imagine.

Hailing from Asmara Eritrea, Haben Girma’s family fought numerous hardships to find their place in the California Bay Area. Loving and protective, they want nothing but the best for their little girl, Haben, who is deafblind.

Little did they know that this incredibly strong and independent girl would let nothing, and no one, stand in her way. Graduating from Harvard Law School and advocating for people with disabilities, Haben’s story demonstrates her belief that disability is “an opportunity for innovation.”

The first chapters invite you to experience what it is like for Haben in school and at home. You sit alongside her as her family shares their history and how they fought for independence against the control of Ethiopia and the oppressive soldiers who enforced it. In both environments, you see the glimmer of this strong-willed girl as she questions choices and pushes buttons.

But what I love most about Haben is how her whole life is about championing for the many, not just through words, but the laws she effects or even her public causes, it’s in her actions.

Even from a very tender age she’s demonstrated this undeniable strength by learning to dance, spending a summer building houses in Mali, enrolling in the Louisiana Center for the Blind then Lewis and Clark College, all the while cooking for friends participating in outdoor adventures, interning in Alaska and changing school policies to give disabled students better access to needed services. These experiences are most won’t even undertake in life, let alone at such a young age. But Haben is not like most. She’s a fierce leader who gently educates the reader against ‘ableism’ and shares the story of how she never stopped dreaming that someday she’ll create a community of people who “believe that disability itself is not a barrier.”

Thank you, Haben. You’ve taught me so much through your story.

Image Courtesy of Twelve Books – Hatchette

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