Hossam has always fought to overcome his disability. | Photo: A. Saleem
Hossam has always fought to overcome his disability. | Photo: A. Saleem

Hossam was born deaf and mute in Syria. Later, as a Syrian refugee in Austria he decided his disability would not stand in the way of his job prospects. Today he works as a technician for an electronics giant in Vienna.

In Austria, Hossam learned sign language in four months and obtained a middle school certificate, one of the documents required to start his vocational education in a branch of Siemens in Austria.

23 year old Hossam smiles broadly as he recounts his long journey to be educated.

“When he was a fetus, the doctors told us the baby could be born with a congenital disorder because I was infected with German measles whilst pregant” his mother explains.

At birth, Hossam looked normal, but his mother recognized his disability when he was just 18 months old.

At the age of nine, Hossam underwent cochlear implant surgery, which helped improve his hearing.  However, the Syrian war affected his neuro-prosthetic device, and prevented the family from sending their child to any hospital to have a new device, which resulted in a deterioration of his condition. “It [the war] affected his hearing and speaking,” his mother explains.

Hossams mother fought hard for her son to be educated and to be treated like everyone else  Photo A Saleem

Coping with the disability

Due to the continuing civil war in Homs in Syria, the family moved to Lebanon temporarily. They were hoping to return home but the violence escalated, and they ended up fleeing to Turkey and then Europe as refugees.

Hossam’s father was the first to make the trip, alone. Everyone in the family followed soon after, except for Hossam, who was already 18 at the time. Finally in 2015, Hossam joined his family when Europe resettled more than a million refugees.

Hossam’s parents have struggled hard to make sure that their son received a good education.  “He has great ambition. He loves studying very much. He is bold and loves drawings,” said the father.

“He did research online himself to find international organizations which could help him. Then he enrolled himself in a school,” the father added.

Currently, Hossam’s condition has improved since he was able to undergo a second round of cochlear implant surgery last year.

Achievements and ultimate ambition

Hossam researched training programs and vocational education himself on the internet before enrolling himself in school  Photo A Saleem

In Austria, Hossam learned sign language in just four months and obtained a certificate of middle school education; one of the documents required to start his vocational education in the Siemens corporation in Austria.

The company has hired a sign language teacher to help him and Hossam is currently in the second year of his four year training program.  

“I have some difficulties with the vocational training, but mostly it is not about me not understanding, what it boils down to is that I’ve only been in Austria a very short amount of time compared to my colleagues,” Hossam told InfoMigrants.

The Syrian refugee dreams of ultimately obtaining a high school certificate so that he will be able to study Biomedical Engineering (BME).

But he’s not just concerned with his own career trajectory. He also wants to give back to the society which welcomed him. He has already registered at the Austrian Forum of Sign Language Interpreters. “I want to be able to ease the suffering of other people who have the same difficulty,” he explains with a smile.