China Disabled Persons Federation
14th March 2017
Teacher dedicates life to helping deaf-mute children
Yuan Jinghua’s brothers and sisters all got married before they were 20. Yuan, however, didn’t get married until she was 25 as many young men were frightened away by her special “dowry”: 45 deaf-mute children.
“If they wanted to marry me, they had to accept the ‘dowry’,” said the woman from Xiajin county, Shandong province, and also a deputy to the National People’s Congress. The children were her students she had taught to speak.
After failing the College Entrance Examination in 1992, Yuan saw two deaf-mute girls driven out of a local primary school in tears after they sneaked into the school and looked into the classroom.
Yuan tried to teach them to speak by asking them to feel her vocal cords vibrate and managed to teach them to say “grandma” and “grandpa” after two months. “I was so excited. I asked the pair to speak in front of many villagers,” she recalled.
Soon many parents took their deaf-mute children to her. Yuan changed her seven-room home into a school. Desks were used as dining tables at dinnertime and beds at night. She charged each child 60 yuan ($8.70) a year and 20 kilograms of wheat a month for the children’s food.
By 1997, the number of students had increased to 45 and Yuan had to set up a thatched hut to accommodate them.