Philanthropist helps mentally-troubled youngsters build confidence

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 11, 2020
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Shitou, a 23-year-old man suffering from severe autism, is now supporting himself on his own delicate craftmanship in both bakery and tableware painting.

His recuperation demonstrates the power of personal volition and social compassion that can transform one's destiny from misery into a decent life.

"Dear sisters and brothers, these are gifts with the skills that I have spent much time developing," declares a personalized gift note the young man writes for delivery with each of his products.

"Believing everybody can act on their own indomitable and hard-working spirit in one way or another, I just follow mine with the use of my handicraft to show that the work to which I am dedicated can give me a decent life," he adds.

From childhood to adolescence, Shitou's growth was full of troubles.

"He poked one of his classmates with a sharpened pencil, babbled nonsense, cycled unaware of the movement of pedestrians, jettisoned things from high-rises and grabbed others' belongings when dining out," his mother recalled.

Had he not joined the training session organized by the Beijing Hanfuer Charity, established six years ago, Shitou might have become a "shut-in" like many mentally-troubled people, unable to integrate in society when reaching adulthood because of their abnormal behavior and social-phobia mentality.

"It was fortunate for him to join the charity on graduation from a specialized vocational school designated for educating 'peripheralized children' in 2017," his mother continued. "During the first year, while receiving training from the charity, he made remarkable progress."

Qian Linyong, founder and chairman of the charity, said the training sessions focus mainly on empowering youngsters growing up with autism or Down's Syndrome to rely on their own skills to lead a more decent, respectful, confident and valuable life in future.

Qian, a consultant-turned-philanthropist, founded the charity with his wife after they had been accredited with intermediate-level certificates issued for social workers.

"When running the Shenzhou Dinghui Management Consultancy, we examined many overseas charitable cases for our clients, like, the Beijing Donation Center for Hope Projects. Later on, we decided to set up one of our own to help the young suffering metal problems," he said.

In the first three years, the couple operated the charity with their own savings.

"As Mahayana Buddhist followers, we dare not borrow for a premature program, even if it is a charitable affair, because we were afraid that we may not be able to pay off the debt," Qian explained. 

"We did not solicit public donations until one day we found the training was eventually working for those young people," he continued.

In Qian's training program, the attendants have never been considered as special and vulnerable as they would be at home. They have to learn to be independent, full of self-respect and confidence.

"A young man suffering medium-level autism was totally unable to live independently, and his parents were reluctant to send him to us, because he suffered constipation and needed assistance with the toilet while staying at home," Qian expounded.

Instead of continuing to render a helping hand in toilet, staff from the charity encouraged the man to solve the problem by himself. They changed his diet, reminded him to drink water as much as possible, encouraged him to wash his socks and underwear and taught him how to use a smart lavatory cover installed especially for him in his dormitory. 

"Repetitive practice can eventually cultivate a good habit," Qian revealed, indicating that a pampered life, for whatever excuse, can deprive a person's right and competence to become independent.

According to Qian, it is almost impractical to urge ordinary employers to hire people suffering from mental illness, but the special training offered by organizations such as his charity can develop careers for those in need of targeted help. 

"The medical therapies cannot obviously relieve an autistic patient as much as vocational training can," he commented. 

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