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Small body carries a big heart
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Lu Jiarui, at 1.16 meters tall, is accompanied by her father to participate in a get-together in this file photo.

Despite her small stature, Lu Jiarui has a big heart when it comes to helping those who are often discriminated against for their size.

"Little persons, or dwarfs, are the 'invisibles' because they don't feel comfortable under the less-than-kind stares of the public," Lu said. They prefer to communicate with each other on the Internet.

As an editor of zenggao.org, a website dedicated to China's dwarfs, Lu used the Internet to organize the country's first Little Person's get-together in Shanghai last Monday to build friendships and assist each other in boosting self-confidence.

More than 20 people attended the party in a community hall.

"I am planning to hold such events regularly to reach out to more people who need help," Lu said.

There are eight million people with dwarfism in China, with about 70,000 in Shanghai. Many of them have suffered from inferiority complexes because of the negative connotations dwarfism carries in society. They have usually been subject to ridicule in childhood and discrimination as adults.

"Most of us still struggle to find a job. Employers think we will affect the impression of the company on their clients. Some of them work in nightclubs or entertainment firms," said Lu.

Job opportunities in entertainment are not easy to find. Lu said. Among the 300 to 400 "little persons" she knows, more than 90 percent are unemployed.

Medical expert Luo Feihong from Children's Hospital of Fudan University pointed out that there is no single cause of dwarfism.

"Parents should track the height of children and ask for the doctor's advice when any abnormality is found," said Lu.

(China Daily August 11, 2009)

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