By Yang Lirong

My name is Yang Lirong, but you can also call me Xizhen. I am from Kunming, Yunnan province.

I’m a full-time member of the Disabled Committee in my community. In my spare time, I study psychology, fortune-telling, and I do handcrafts with flowers, like preserving fresh flowers and embossing flowers.

I have a disability since birth. When I was born, there was a medical accident and my hip was dislocated; the subsequent failure of surgeries resulted in hematopoietic functional disorder, which led to femoral head necrosis. This limits my ability to move my lower limbs; for example, I cannot dance.

AFNH: Avascular necrosis of the femoral head (ANFH) is a pathologic process that results from interruption of blood supply to the thigh bone resulting in the death of bone cells and collapse of the head of the thigh bone.

Studying psychology and fortune-telling has triggered me to see things around me clearer, and understand cause and effect with a different logic, which is not either black or white. When I do something, I know it won’t matter whether it is a good or bad choice; what matters the most is what you choose. And when you choose, you gain and you lose.

Some choices are so entangled that it feels like the best way is not to make any choice. But life requires you to make choices all the time, which is difficult for me.

I am a disabled woman, who faces the pressure and challenge of being both disabled and female in this society. I used to believe that as long as I’d work hard enough, I could live almost the same life as the able-bodied people. But in my life, I found that most difficulties and troubles I encountered were caused by my identity: a disabled woman. Because of being a disabled woman, I experienced more bullying in my childhood, I am more discriminated against in work environment, and I have more difficulties with marriage than able-bodied women.

The reason why I chose to be a full-time member of the disabled committee was to learn more about the daily life of disabled people and the various difficulties they endure, through grassroots work, and at the same time to do something within my capacity.

The reason why I choose to make embossed flowers and preserve fresh flowers is that there is a subject called art psychotherapy in psychology, which can bring psychological healing through music, dancing, and drawing. Kunming is the largest international flower trade center in Asia. I want to take advantage of the flower resources in Kunming and integrate it in art psychotherapy because creating beauty can alleviate the component of repression and anxiety in a woman’s heart.

Moreover, the ability to emboss and preserve flowers is more useful than the arrangement of fresh flowers, therefore it can promote employment and entrepreneurship. Ultimately, I want to help more and more disabled women in this way.

I am not doing these things alone, I have some like-minded friends at home and abroad; their daily efforts and endeavors encourage me in difficult times, and I’ll not give up.

I think that able-bodied people can help me when I’m in need, but they don’t have to show their sympathy to me, they just need to understand that the disability is only a part of my body. Without curiosity and looking at me strangely, because both birth and death are normal conditions of life. Understanding life and death can sometimes allow us to understand disability.

What are universal barrier-free facilities? It is to help everyone who needs barrier-free facilities, it has nothing to do with whether she or he is disabled – as long as she or he needs, she or he can use the facilities. The disabled and the non-disabled can also be understood in this way: the disabled are not all vulnerable groups, and the able-bodied are not all people who do not need help. We can do something within our own power, help people who are in need, and promote the process of this diverse society together.