Wei Fangyu, a deaf-mute villager in Shanyin county, Shuozhou city, north China’s Shanxi province, who is also a member of a local handicraft cooperative named Zhongfuyuan, sews pillowcases. (Photo by Fu Mingli/People’s Daily)
Shuozhou city, north China’s Shanxi province, has helped many local people with disabilities get jobs and realize their self-worth through various targeted measures.
By promoting the development of handicraft industry, especially weaving and knitting, the city enabled local disabled women to earn an income by making handcrafts at their homes.
It has also held training sessions to help people with disabilities acquire professional skills, and built employment and entrepreneurship bases to create various job opportunities for disabled people.
Xindatan village, Shanyin county of Shuozhou, is a new village that has taken shape since 2005 as residents have gradually relocated here from some remote villages in the county.
Due to the shortage of land, most villagers in Xindatan choose to leave their hometown and work in bigger cities.
Residents with disabilities have been left in the village, and they have trouble making a living as they lack professional skills, said Wei Hongyu, who has served as the head of the villagers committee of Xindatan village since 2011.
In order to help disabled residents earn money without leaving their homes, Wei traveled to many cities around the country to learn from successful experience and constantly tried new ways to create jobs for these people.
In 2012, Wei established a cooperative named Zhongfuyuan, which sells handcrafts knitted or woven by local disabled people.
At first, the cooperative only provided such products as ribbon embroideries, stocking flowers, and articles woven from corn husk, while today it also has perfumed sachets.
A total of 28 disabled residents now work for the cooperative, and each of them receives a monthly salary varying from 600 yuan (about $93) to 2,000 yuan, according to Wei.
Wang Ying, a 57-year-old employee of the cooperative, has suffered from polio since she was young, and can hardly stand up, not to mention leaving her house for work.
When Wei asked her to make handcrafts for the cooperative, she declined the offer at first. “I have been sick almost my whole life, and I don’t want to deal with people,” Wang said gloomily.
Wei didn’t give up, though. He talked with Wang repeatedly and finally persuaded her.
It only took Wang two to three days to learn to make handcrafts in the cooperative. According to Wang, she can make three to four perfumed sachets and earn 18 yuan to 24 yuan per day.
“I never expected that one day I can earn money with my own hands,” Wang said, who has gained self-confidence after working in the cooperative.
A wall in a cultural and creative industrial park for people with disabilities in Shanyin county is used to display the photos of outstanding workers of the industrial park, including Wei Fangyu, who is praised for her innovative designs.
Due to her disabilities, the 42-year-old woman had stayed at home to take care of her children ever since she got married.
In 2016, she became a worker of the Zhongfuyuan cooperative. “With deft hands and a keen interest in drawing, she has designed many new products for the cooperative,” Wei Hongyu noted.
In 2019, Wei Fangyu took part in China’s 6th national vocational skill competition for persons with disabilities held in Jiaxing, east China’s Zhejiang province, as one of the 24 representatives of Shanxi province.
Last year, she won the third prize in the Shanxi competition area (clothing and accessory design) of the national vocational skill competition for outstanding disabled workers.
For the convenience of people with disabilities, the cooperative has joined hands with a vocational school in the county to provide free training for them at their homes.
Under the support of local disabled persons federation and other organizations and government departments, the cooperative has launched over 160 training sessions in more than 20 poverty-stricken villages in Shanyin county over the years, benefiting over 8,000 villagers, including 180 disabled residents.