Determined to look ahead

Updated: 2015-02-25 07:28

By Huo Yan and Wang Xiaodong in Longsheng, Guangxi(China Daily)

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Although childhood accident resulted in loss of lower legs, woman resolves to make a living

Walking on her knees is natural for 50-year-old Hu Fenglian, and she has been walking that way for as long as she can remember.

Both her legs were burned below the knees when she fell into a fire pit at the age of 6 months. The accident left her without the function of her lower legs.

 Determined to look ahead

Hu Fenglian, who lost the lower part of her legs, works at a stone factory in Longsheng county, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Huo Yan / China Daily

Her life has certainly not been easy. From the age of 6 she worked growing sweet potatoes, raising pigs and chickens in her village to help her parents support the family of six.

Later, she had to raise her daughter by herself when her husband left her when the child was 4 months old.

But after enduring those hardships, Hu, from Weizi, a village in Longsheng county in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is still optimistic about life.

"I never feel myself to be inferior, and people are nice to me," she said. "I think the only difference between me and others is I walk slower."

In 2009, with the help of a local association for the disabled, Hu had an operation in Nanning, capital of the region, to remove the lower part of both legs so she could be fitted with artificial legs.

However, the artificial legs caused her discomfort, and she turned back to walking on her knees.

"The association also donated a wheelchair to me, but it was too high for me to be able to sit on it by myself," she said.

In December, with the help of the association, Hu started to work at a souvenir factory in Longsheng county as a stone polisher. She polishes small pieces of "chicken-blood stone", a local and prized ornamental stone composed of clay and quartz, with varying amounts of red cinnabar.

"I like this job, because I don't have to move while polishing these stones," she said.

Hu can make 600 yuan ($98) a month from the job. The company also provides her with free lunches and a room to sleep in.

She also does some other odd jobs, such as embroidery, for extra money.

In 2006, Hu left Weizi to work in Longsheng after her daughter got married and moved to her husband's home in Hezhou, about 300 kilometers away.

"At that time, volunteers from Longsheng Disabled Persons' Association came to my village and asked whether I would like to work, and they would provide training," Hu said.

Hu said she had held a number of jobs in towns, such as selecting mining stones and gathering wood pieces at a furniture factory.

"I like working in towns," she said." I can make more money, and factory work is much less hard than working on farms."

Since July, Hu has been receiving a monthly disability allowance of 200 yuan from the local government. It is not enough for her to survive on because she has to buy medicine to relieve the pain in her legs.

"I want to work like others and to earn a little money to support myself," she said.

She had the idea of helping her daughter and son-in-law run their small grocery store in Hezhou and made several visits.

"I soon realized I could not be much help because I cannot understand the dialect," she said.

Hu said she feels sorry for her daughter.

Determined to look ahead

"Fate has not been kind to her either," Hu said. "She quit school before finishing primary school because I could not support her and went to a nearby town to become a nanny when she was just 12."

Although Hu never went to school, she has learned to type and now communicates with lots of people through instant messenger applications such as QQ and WeChat.

"I have known a lot of friends through QQ," she said. "I even received a box of mooncakes from a child in Changsha I got to know through QQ during Mid-Autumn Festival last year."

Shen Xin, an official from Jiangdi, which administers Weizi, said the town has other people with disabilities but few display as much confidence and optimism as Hu.

Shen said the township government has provided medical subsidies and material subsidies to her and other people with disabilities.

Jia Liping, a publicity official at Longsheng county, said she admires Hu very much.

"Although she lost her legs, Hu is still so optimistic about her life and making a living on her own rather than begging or taking advantage of others' sympathy for money," she said.

Hu said her disability has not upset her too much. She doesn't dwell in the past but looks to the future.

"I wish I could save enough money to buy an apartment in Longsheng county someday," she said.

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(China Daily 02/25/2015 page7)