Disabled man turns page with stationery company

China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-20 09:57
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Jole (left), 36, is the founder of a company that sells Tibetan calligraphy stationery. [Photo/Xinhua]

LHASA — At a factory in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Xizang autonomous region, wheelchair user Jole inspects finished goods while his employees, many of whom have disabilities, carry out their work around him.

Jole, 36, is the founder of a company that sells Tibetan calligraphy stationery. He began using a wheelchair after an accident paralyzed him from the waist down while he was at university 14 years ago.

He said the accident almost destroyed him. After years of inner conflict, he began to seek positive change and embraced a new way of life.

"I always felt like a burden on my family. It was time to lift myself up," he said.

In 2011, Jole attended a job fair organized by the local disabled persons' federation. He submitted over 20 resumes but received no responses. It was then that the young man had the idea to start his own business.

Amid economic challenges, Jole embarked on his entrepreneurial journey with 70,000 yuan ($9,800) that he received from his family, and an additional 85,000 yuan in government support.

Fueled by a passion for Tibetan calligraphy, Jole established his own company, Tuogang, in 2016. The name is a transliteration of the Tibetan word for "plateau" and symbolizes the expansion of opportunities in Mandarin. He aspired to provide more opportunities for individuals with disabilities like himself, he said.

Today, his company employs 42 people, 27 of whom have disabilities. Among them is 22-year-old Lhapa Dondrup, who has brittle bone disease and has defied the expectations of doctors who told him that he wouldn't live past the age of 20. He now manages online operations at Tuogang.

"Jole is my role model. I also used to see myself as a burden on my family and society, but now I feel confident in supporting myself with my own two hands," he said.

Reflecting on his journey, Jole emphasized the importance of support from both his family and the government.

"My elder brother once told me that when they provided financial support for my business, my family did not expect big success, but they wanted me to walk out of the shadows and have the strength and courage to face a new life," he recalled, noting that the government's support had helped him further.

In 2021, the government offered Jole a grant of 420,000 yuan to support his company's launch of Tibetan calligraphy classes, which represented a significant expansion of his business.

Data shows that over the past five years, Xizang has invested 900 million yuan in subsidies for disabled people. In 2020, the region established its first employment and entrepreneurship park for people with disabilities, fostering the establishment of 25 companies employing over 300 people with disabilities, with 11 of these companies headed by disabled entrepreneurs.

"As long as you don't give up on yourself, life will always be filled with hope," Jole said.


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