Nuur, a student at Doncaster College spent a week doing work experience at Sound Seekers. Originally from Somalia and hard of hearing, we interviewed him on his last day with us:
Were you born with hearing loss or did you acquire it when you got older?
Nurr was named ‘person of the day’, which consisted of him wearing a plastic crown and posing for a photo!
As I was growing up my hearing got worse. When I was one, I got an ear infection. After three/four years I couldn’t hear anything. I was 10 years old when I got two hearing aids. My father was doing business in Italy so was able to get me some hearing aids. There was no audiology support in Somalia at that time. When I first got the ear infection, the doctor just gave me injections to relieve the pain.
What support did you have in Somalia/Kenya with your hearing loss?
I had no support in Somalia or Kenya. There were no audiology services out there. The only thing I had was my hearing aids and I didn’t do a lot of socialising.
Tell us what it was like growing up in Somalia/Kenya with hearing loss
Going to school in Somalia was difficult because of the bullying. They called me names, bullied me because of my hearing loss. It was a harsh environment. In school I didn’t wear my hearing aids because of the bullying, I used to hide them. It was difficult because people talked about me, they grouped around me and I felt embarrassed and humiliated.
When the Civil War was happening it was dangerous, a lot of bullets, you didn’t know when you were going to get hit. You didn’t know how to get away from it, you felt like you were stuck. Kenya was better than Somalia, more peaceful.
One day, my family and I were fleeing Somalia. In order to get out the city where we lived, you have to go through roadblocks that were manned by armed groups (militia). Every roadblock is manned by different militia, and each are loyal to different warlords. You could not get through to the next roadblock without paying an exit fee or bribing the militia. We stopped at one of these roadblocks and were singled out, searched and our money and valuables were taken. I was standing right next to my family when I heard someone shouting “who is he talking to”, without realising he was referring to me. I then suddenly felt a heavy impact on my right ear. When I regained consciousness, I found the world in total silence and I had an excruciating pain in my ear. I did not know what had happened, but after we reached a safe place, my family explained to me how one of the militia mistook my hearing aid for a spying device and hit me over the head with the butt of his gun. He assumed I was in contact with rival militia and was ready to execute me over something he had never seen before. My family had to explain to the militia leader that I was deaf and was using a hearing device to help me hear and that I was no threat to them. Since then I spent most of my time hearing nothing, not knowing what was happening around me and in total fear of encountering militias.
Did you know anyone else in Somalia/Kenya with hearing loss?
There were some people who were deaf, children and grown ups. No one had hearing aids. They were amazed that I was wearing hearing aids. The hearing aids helped me although there was a lot of background noise. If it wasn’t for the hearing aids I would struggle to communicate. No one in my family can do sign language, the country didn’t know about it back then, it is a different world now.
When/why did you come to the UK?
I came to the UK when I was 27 to get better hearing support. I didn’t get any hearing support in Somalia or Kenya so my parents thought that my life and health would improve in England. When I first moved to England my eyes opened, it was impressive. It is a different world. I would go back to Kenya to visit my family but I wouldn’t live there again.
What are you doing now?
I am at Doncaster College doing IT and it is helping me obtain some certificate. Doncaster is nice; I have made a few deaf friends but I can only do basic sign language.
What are you hoping to achieve?
To become an IT Technician.
Had you heard of Sound Seekers before you started your work experience?
I had never heard of Sound Seekers. The college told me about it.
Have you enjoyed working here this week?
It has been interesting working here; I have enjoyed it a lot.
What have you enjoyed the most?
It is a friendly environment, there are nice people. Sorting out the hearing aids was interesting, they need a project like that in Africa, especially Somalia.