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Young volunteers in Lanzhou launch program to help disabled people

01-18-2011 18:05 BJT

“This is the first time that I ‘watch’ a movie,” a 69-year-old blind person said

The Gansu Political Science and Law Institute (GPSLI) established the GPSLI Young Volunteers Association in October 2008, and its membership increased from less than 100 in the initial stage to nearly 500 in October 2010.

Since its founding, the association has been carrying out a distinctive campaign dubbed “Blue Ribbon” aimed at providing hope and help to disabled people.

The first “Mind Cinema” event held by the association remains fresh in the memories of many people. “The Founding of a Republic is set in the time period from China’s victory over Japan in 1945 to the founding of the Republic of China, and gives a magnificent account of the birth of the multi-party cooperation and political consultation system…” a girl with a tender voice describes the context and plot of the Chinese blockbuster to an attentive audience of blind people.

Each blind audience member was accompanied by two young volunteers, who would gently explain the scenes that blind people could not understand as a supplement to the presenter’s narration.

As the plot unfolded, the audience all had a happy smile on their face and applauded loudly from time to time. “This is the first time I ‘saw’ a film. I literally pictured the epic film in my mind with the help of the volunteers’ description,” Qi Hong, a 69-year-old blind person said excitedly. “Our aim is to provide visually impaired people the opportunity to enjoy the same level of access to movies, give them pleasure, improve their cognitive abilities, and increase their quality of life. We hope this vulnerable group can enjoy equal living standards, break down barriers and walk out of their cramped living space,” said Xiong Jianyuan, a student adviser at the association. “Can I come and ‘watch’ movies next time?” Wang Jun, a 12-year-old blind child asked volunteer Chen Shuli anxiously while holding her hand. “Of course, you can ‘watch’ many more movies,” Chen replied positively.

Care for mentally challenged people

The “Mind Cinema” is just part of the “Blue Ribbon” Campaign, and the association has carried out a series of activities in recent years to help and encourage the mentally challenged.

Li Ting, a junior who joined the association, said that her biggest challenge in doing the volunteer work is communicating with mentally challenged children. “They talk and laugh whenever and wherever they want, and more often than not, their words make no sense, and their behaviors are unpredictable, so it is very difficult to communicate with them,” she said frankly. At first, she was at a loss due to poor communication.

Adviser Xiong explained, “Almost every volunteer will encounter this problem, which is why newcomers to the association need special training. Mentally challenged children are straightforward and have a simple mind. They will feel happy as long as someone talks with and cares about them. However, they cannot properly express themselves. Furthermore, some children may throw tantrums to get attention, so volunteers should treat them with great patience.”

In October 2010, the association and Lanzhou Huiling Service Centre for Intellectually Disabled People jointly held a charity event involving an auction and theatrical performances by volunteers and mentally challenged people. More than 400 audience members opened their wallets and bought handicrafts made by mentally challenged people, in hopes of enhancing their pride and self-confidence.

Passing on love

Headed by teachers, the association’s young volunteers visited and helped 524 disabled people in more than 120 communities in Qilihe and Anning districts during the 2010 summer vacation.

Sixty-three-year-old Li Xiulan and her husband are both disabled, and are grateful for the help from volunteers. “I actually do not need them to do anything particular. Just talking with them makes me happy,” she said. After the summer vacation, Li not only actively takes part in almost every activity held by the association, but also encourages other disabled people to do the same.

The volunteers have gained a better understanding of the lives of disabled people after the social practice activity. “Most disabled people feel inferior and lonely, and are inclined to isolate themselves. However, as long as you treat them with kindness and sincerity, they will pay you back with kindness and sincerity,” a volunteer said.

Certainly, the help is not one-sided. The optimistic and positive attitudes of some disabled people have also influenced volunteers and blind “Brother Du” is one such disabled person. “Brother Du” is named Du Dangyu and has a master’s degree. He became blind during an experiment. Fate took away his eyes but not his persistent pursuit of a bright life. He is humorous and well educated, and has unique opinions on many things. “Brother Du” has become a good teacher and helpful friend to the students.

The volunteers have reached a consensus to make more disabled people live like “Brother Du.”

Whenever the volunteers have time, they will stay with the disabled and encourage them to open up their hearts and express themselves freely. The volunteers are very cautious during the talks with the disabled in order not to touch on the soft spots in their deep hearts, and always take a firm attitude to help them build confidence in life and to encourage them to live a happy life like healthy people.

Editor:Shi Taoyang |Source: CNTV

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