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Mighty mother-of-two Maryam Shehab has become the video star of a royal initiative and her gritty determination is helping to inspire young people to achieve their dreams no matter what obstacles they may face.
The 32-year-old Bahraini was born hearing-impaired and with her family rallying around her, she has emerged as a successful, empowered career woman fuelled by love, courage, patience and perseverance.
“My childhood was beautiful; I was raised in a household full of love. My parents always believed in me and never made me feel that I was different – it’s the secret of my success and strength today,” she said.
“Every day has challenges and the answer is to face them and find solutions.
“Challenges have always been a part of my life, like the air that I breathe, and thanks to Allah I have grown stronger. Every day I have more faith in myself and, by God’s grace, I have become an inspiration for others. We’re all different and we can all be inspirational in our own way.”
Mariam was praised by His Majesty King Hamad’s representative for humanitarian and youth affairs Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa for her defiance, determination and ability to achieve her goals.
She is part of a series of short videos published by the Youth and Sports Ministry under the hashtag #Be_Strong highlighting Bahrainis who have overcome the odds and became examples of resilience.
Ms Shehab, who has one brother and two sisters, attributed her strength and determination to the unconditional love shown by her parents.
“My father, for example, never gave up on me and he always believed that I would learn to speak after he was told that I was deaf,” she added.
“Those with hearing-impaired disability shouldn’t live in isolation. I want them to live like me and enjoy a normal productive life.”
Ms Shehab was the first hearing-impaired student in her school to receive a scholarship by Education Minister Dr Majid Al Nuaimi and she graduated from Ahlia University with distinction.
She says she overcame all challenges thanks to her parents’ unrelenting belief in her capabilities and is now a proud mother-of-two working full time with the National Bank of Bahrain.
She has extended the same love and support extended by her parents to her daughters.
Her proud father, Fouad Shehab, who is an Ahlia University history and international relations professor, believes the magnificence of a family lies in being transformed into a small society, firmly connected by love.
“Mariam was always a happy child but once she ventured out into the community she felt the difference. However, she was armed with love, kindness, determination and a strong personality,” he said.
“When I was told she was hearing-impaired I hugged her and I told her that I loved her and that she would one day speak.
“Her first word was ‘Baba’ (father) and I waited for her to say it for two years.
“Before Mariam the possibility of hearing-impaired children speaking was somewhat of a fantasy but now we don’t accept less than full integration in education and society and it has turned into a reality in our beloved kingdom.
“Her achievements have made me believe that God has chosen me to carry a noble message through her.”