Jobs for Humanity Stories

KAREN KARAM Paris, France

Stories of differences

« For a while, speaking was scary because I could not recognize my own voice.»

On the first day of my new job, my manager greeted me with a smile and started talking to me. Her lips were moving but I could not hear what she was saying. For the rest of the day, I could not hear what my colleagues were saying. That was the day I lost my capacity to hear human voices. Losing, even partially, one of your senses is petrifying. It’s coming to terms with how vulnerable you are. It’s grieving your identity. Who am I if I cannot spontaneously comment in a conversation? You also grieve the future plans you had. Would I have chosen this career path had I known what was going to happen to me? My road to recovery was not easy. I remember the first time I tried the hearing aids, and the first time I forgot that I was wearing them. For a while, speaking was scary because I could not recognize my own voice. I remember the relief I felt, during a speech therapy session, after I had managed to scream on purpose. With time, I adjusted to my ‘new normal’. But there are things I no longer take for granted, like the sound of music, the sound of my mother’s laugh, the wind when it tickles trees. There is a lot I no longer hear, but I have learned to listen, and I have noticed that we all have stories, we all have struggles. Whether those are disabilities – physical or mental – histories, backgrounds…, the reality is that there are not enough opportunities to help the different among us. But there could be, if we care enough to create them.

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