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Tibetan moves beyond disability to inspire

By PALDEN NYIMA in Lhasa | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-12-03 08:48
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Tibetan ethnic group member Kyila puts up a mirror in her room, reflecting her image adorned with a hairdo styled in dazzling, dyed waves.

"I don't need a mirror and I don't see myself, but like other girls I also like makeup. I want to dress up nicely because I consider this to be part of my way of showing respect to others," the 34-year-old said.

As a visually impaired person, Kyila may not see the world the same way as many people, but her words clearly reflect her determination to be a confident, compassionate and useful member of her community.

For the past six years, Kyila has been working as secretary of the Fukang Angel Foundation, which is affiliated to the Tibet Fukang Medical Corporation, one of the few key private hospitals in the autonomous region.

Kyila was born with her visual impairment in a farmer's family in Tibet's Shigatse city. She has two brothers who are also visually impaired. When Kyila was 12, she enrolled in Braille Without Borders, a special needs school in Lhasa that opened in 1998.

After three years in the school, Kyila was able to read and write Braille in Chinese, Tibetan and English. She has also learned culinary and massage techniques.

Kyila subsequently had the opportunity to study at the English-language Totnes European School in London. She later founded Tibet's first blind massage center of its kind, as well as the first kindergarten of its kind for visually impaired children.

Kyila has been a kind mother to many residents who could not see the world directly and who were seeking out their own dreams and aspirations beyond their visual impairment. She has never stopped helping and inspiring others. In 2013, when she was applying for a position at the foundation, she was confident enough to call the president of the Tibet Fukang Medical Corporation directly-she clinched the job soon after.

"At the beginning, it was difficult to communicate with my colleagues, but I don't blame them as they did not understand a blind person," said Kyila, adding she was given a hard copy of the introduction of the foundation to read and she asked them to provide an electronic document on the computer instead so that she could access it via audio.

Kyila very quickly adapted to her new work environment-she could go to the washroom or get a cup of water by herself. One of Kyila's colleagues did not believe that she was visually impaired.

In the foundation, her work included office tasks, field trips related to scholarships and medical aid, as well as financial support for impoverished residents in the region.

According to Liu Xiaoxiao, deputy general manager of the foundation, since its establishment in 2013, the foundation has provided medical aid for 500 individual patients, 200 middle school and college students, and more than 100 residents with financial difficulties.

Currently, 30 university and 10 middle school students receive scholarships, with each one receiving 6,000 yuan ($913) a year.

The foundation's plans include investing more than 3 million yuan on different projects this year alone.

"She is a very kind, hardworking and capable woman. Despite her vulnerability, she has a very strong heart," Liu said.

"She can do things just like everyone else and she lives with respect," she said. "We want to make her feel that what she gains is from her own hard work, to be treated equally."

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