Blind massage therapist upholds Red Boat spirit

By Qin Qi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 25, 2021
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Zhu Lihua, a 63-year-old blind massage therapist and a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) for 26 years, has helped over 100 blind people to find jobs, donated 5.06 million yuan (around US$78,700) to hundreds of poor students, and gave treatment to numerous patients over the past few decades. 

Zhu Lihua, director of Lihua Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic in Jiaxing city, Zhejiang province, attends a group interview held by the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Beijing on May 14, 2021. [Photo by Xu Xiang/China SCIO]

Zhu has been awarded countless honors. She was named an icon for self-strengthening, the National March 8th Red-banner Pacesetter, "Touching China 2019 Person of the Year," and so on. 

Yet behind the flowers and applause lies an arduous and noble struggle.

Zhu lost her sight when she was 18 years old due to accidental trauma and unsuccessful surgeries, sinking her into depression. Then in 1983, she heard on the radio the story of Zhang Haidi, a wheelchair-bound woman who was named a national role model.

Zhu was deeply inspired and regained her confidence. She attended the first traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) massage training session for blind people in Zhejiang province in 1985. After three years of training, she was assigned to work at the medical center of a local orphanage. Zhu's medical proficiency and meticulous care helped many children with cerebral palsy to improve their conditions. A four-year-old boy who was not able to stand or sit independently improved a lot from Zhu's massage therapy and functional training. The children's noticeable improvement boosted Zhu's confidence to hone her skills and help more people in need. 

After years of diligence and hard work, Zhu published three papers on the treatment of cerebral palsy and became the first blind certified TCM massage therapist in Jiaxing city of eastern China's Zhejiang province in 1998. Over the past 30 years, Zhu has treated over 300 children suffering from cerebral palsy with an effective rate of over 90%. She also treated and cured 25 children with infantile asthma. 

A group photo of role models with disabilities in 2014 and copies of news reports about Zhu Lihua are seen hanging on the wall of her clinic. [Photo/]

As a native of Jiaxing city, Zhu has been influenced by the Red Boat spirit since childhood and joined the CPC in 1994. Driven by the Red Boat spirit of creativity, hard work, and devotion, Zhu established a massage clinic in Jiaxing in 2008, which solely hired and trained blind people. Zhu has taught massage techniques to more than 100 visually-impaired people and provided food and accommodation for the trainees free of charge. The loss of vision has brought lots of difficulties for Zhu's teaching. As the trainees were not able to find the acupuncture points accurately, Zhu volunteered to be their first patient. Although Zhu's body was always covered in bruises, she said this was the only way she could identify her trainees' errors, so that they could avoid mistakes on patients. 

Zhu's kindness and strong sense of responsibility have affected her trainees. One of the trainees has been working with her for over 30 years. Starting from an 11-square-meter medical center with one bed to a massage clinic of 467 square meters with 20 beds, Zhu has brought the light of hope to people living in darkness.

Zhu has adhered to her aspiration of seeking happiness for the people, taking care of the patients meticulously, and helping disadvantaged people to earn a decent living. As a veteran CPC member, her philanthropic acts have gone even beyond these goals.  

In 1991, Zhu learned about Project Hope, a program that aims to raise funds for the education of China's poverty-stricken children. She donated 140 yuan - more than double her monthly salary - to two students in southwestern China's Yunnan province, and she has been donating to charity ever since. As of today, Zhu has donated 5.06 million yuan to hundreds of poor students. Although Zhu has no children of her own, she has become mother to many students.

One of those poor students is Zhu Lixia, who has always called Zhu "mother," especially since they have the same family name. Zhu Lixia said she would not be able to continue her college education without the generous help from Zhu, who paid 5,000 yuan a year during Zhu Lixia's four-year education at Zhejiang University. "Although we are not related by blood, she is a real mother to me," Zhu Lixia said in 2019. 

Although Zhu is generous with helping others, she has remained frugal with herself. She has not bought a house, and instead been living at her clinic. "It might take one million yuan to buy a house, I would rather use the money to help more people," she said. 

Where there are difficulties, there are helping hands from Zhu. Zhu has provided medical care to military personnel in active service since 1989, treating over 4,000 servicemen free of charge. In 2008, Zhu donated, in the name of a large CPC membership dues, 100,000 yuan to the hard-hit area of the Wenchuan earthquake. In 2020, when COVID-19 hit the country, Zhu donated 30,000 yuan to Wuhan, the then epicenter of the epidemic, without hesitation. Moreover, with the help of Jiaxing Disabled Persons' Federation, Zhu donated 110,000 masks to 11,000 people with disabilities living on subsistence allowance. Zhu's devotion to the people has transcended the limit of life as she signed the organ donation agreement in 2018. 

When Zhu was honored as the "Touching China 2019 Person of the Year," the award committee said, "Although misfortune closed her door, Zhu opened a window of hope for others." It has been 36 years since Zhu embarked on her medical career, the veteran CPC member's passion toward the career and the people continues unabated. As Zhu said, she will adhere to the Red Boat spirit to make greater contributions to the people and the country.

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