She Brings Light to Darkness

“I am so impressed by what Premier Zhu Rongji said in his 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05) report about synchronous development of economy and social undertakings,” said Xi Weijing at a group meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) session. “Social undertakings involve various public interests, including what I am doing now.”

Xi, 34, is a deputy to the Ninth National People’s Congress (NPC) which was in session in Beijing on March 5-15. She has served as president of the Blind People Massage School of Wuhu, in central China’s Anhui Province for 16 years running. The school enrolls blind students from all over the country.

So far, the school admits 100-odd students per year, with 28 professional teachers, all college graduates. Over the past years, the school has turned out 600 graduates.

The school, established by Xi’s father Xi Manqiao in 1979, is the only private school of its kind in China. Xi Manqiao was himself blind. He discovered that massage was one of the most suitable careers for the blind since they have a relatively sharper sense of touch and hearing. To teach them working skills and make a living by themselves, he built this school with almost all his savings.

China has a total of 9 million blind people, mostly living in rural areas, and Anhui Province has about 450,000. Since some federations of the blind have been set up in China, more care and support have been given. Yet, there are still difficulties for the disabled to get access to schooling, let alone to work, Xi said.

To build up their confidence, equip them with knowledge, and help them integrated into society, Xi Weijing said she would strive to turn her school into a first-class one in China. Being blind didn’t mean that they were denied with happiness, fulfillment and a meaningful life.

Xi quit her job to take over the school in 1994 after her father’s death, although she had an opportunity for further study abroad. Her choice was not understood by her friends and relatives. Her deep care for the blind had guided her and she said she would never regret about her decision.

One of her girl students, Wang Yuanyuan, is from Wuhu City. Because of her blindness, the girl had had little love from her parents, both laid-off workers. Even worse, the unfortunate girl had been scaled by boiling water when she was only three. Since her grandparents sent her to Xi’s school in 2000, Xi has exempted her tuition fee and showed her great care and love. Now smile was back to Yuanyuan’s face.

Her students must finish 25 courses within three years. Beside language and other regular school classes, the school offers quality and personality cultivation course to help students build up their confidence, self-esteem, self-improvement, and the ability for self-support. Some blind students had even attempted suicide after losing their sight. Xi had helped them stand up again.

Xi has received many letters of thanks from her former students, most of whom have now run massage clinics by themselves. This greatly strengthened her determination to work even harder for the blind in the future. Instead of calling her President Xi, her students prefer to call her Sister Weijing.

When mentioning a letter she received recently, Xi said she was so happy at learning a former student had done so well in running two clinics in south China with many blind employees.

Xi’s work has been warmly acclaimed by many other people. Among them was Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the Blind in Hong Kong, who, after a visit in 1996, allocated funds to improve classrooms conditions, teaching facilities and help diligent, poor students finish their schooling. The school also receives supports from local government.

The country’s emphasis on social undertaking would tremendously help the disabled persons, said Xi. In addition, President Jiang Zemin also called for running the country in accordance with law and morality, which will also push this undertaking.

(CIIC by Guo Xiaohong 03/16/2001)