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Artist sees brighter future for disabled

China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-20 09:37

Impaired vision hasn't stopped Cai Cheng from lighting up the lives of other disabled people by helping them find meaningful jobs and a sense of purpose.

"I have a beautiful dream to venture out into the world, and I'll keep going on no matter what," said Cai, who runs a domestic services company in Tianjin.

When he's not scouring the job market looking for gainful employment for his clients, Cai likes to strum on his guitar and sing songs he wrote himself with his employees during spare time to keep spirits high.

The 28-year-old visually impaired entrepreneur started his company seven years ago.

It now has 35 employees, one-third of whom are either disabled or related to someone who is disabled, and nearly 1,000 disabled families count themselves as his clients.

Cai was struck with optic neuritis at age 10. "It seemed like the sky was falling down at the time," his mother, Wang Zhiping, recalled.

Cai's disability made it impossible for him to continue his studies, so two years later, he was transferred to a special school for the blind.

There he was taught traditional Chinese massage, a common occupation for the visually impaired.

"I didn't want to do this all my life," Cai said. So he applied to Tianjin Open University and was accepted into a social work program in 2010.

He then came up with the idea of starting a business. With local government funding and access to interest-free loans, he set up a company in 2011 that helped disabled residents provide domestic services like housekeeping and baby-sitting.

Wang, an accountant, quit her own job and became the first employee of her son's company. At that time, the biggest challenge was to find clients, so Cai's mother started by offering free services to win their trust.

As the company grew, Cai's first thought was to provide jobs for the disabled and their families.

"I can understand the inconveniences that the disabled face better than most, so I wanted to do something for them," he said.

He Ying, 60, has facial neurofibroma, while her husband is paralyzed and confined to bed, and her son is incapacitated by a serious illness.

Cai offered her a job as a domestic worker. "I can buy you chicken legs now," she told her husband after she got her first month's salary. She can make more than 5,000 yuan ($780) in a good month.

Wang Xi, 30, lost a leg in an accident a few years ago. After Cai learned that he could still drive, he offered him a job as a driver in his company. "There are many disabled people in the company, and everyone is working for a better life," Wang Xi said.

A better life for Cai meant starting a family. Introduced by a client, he met his wife, Liu Yunli, and their baby is now 2 years old.

"The happiest thing about our life is when I bike my husband to work each morning. It's really tiring but he can always find a way to amuse me." Liu said. "I feel a sense of security when I'm with him."

Cai is not easily satisfied with the status quo. After years of development, he has expanded his business into additional areas, hoping to provide more jobs for the disabled. "What you have achieved might be glorious, but it's in the past. We have to stay focused on a better future," he said.



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