Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Sep 30th
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Valuable Good Seed

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Valuable Good Seed
Accept Him Proudly Before Everyone Else
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Qiang was born with a moderate mental disability, which caused unspeakable pain for his parents. For more than two decades, the family has taken him to receive special education. No miracle has happened, but the hardship of looking after him has been transformed into joy. Nowadays, Qiang uses his cheerful smile to win friends and pave his own future. As his mother said, “Qiang is not a fleck of floating dust, but a seed of goodness.”

Qiang (強) passionately sang his favorite song, which had been rewritten using the melody of You’ll Win If You Work Hard. When he finished singing, the audience gave him a thunderous ovation.

During Tzu Chi activities in the Tianmu district of Taipei, Qiang often passes on the accolades to other performers. “Good! Wonderful!” This gracious response brings more smiles and applause. And he is often seen greeting other volunteers. This makes him an excellent PR person in the eyes of the volunteers.

Qiang, 31, has a moderate mental disability, but he always says decent words and thinks of lines from Jing Si Aphorisms by Master Cheng Yen. Once he accompanied his mother, Zhong Yu-ying (鍾玉英), to collect donations for Tzu Chi. Zhong urged him to walk faster, and he replied, “Waste no time and take each step firmly.” Zhong smiled at the words, because Qiang was quoting an aphorism from Master Cheng Yen.

“Qiang is a smart kid,” his father, Chen Yao-xuan (陳耀軒), proudly said. From the sweet expressions on the parents’ faces, it’s hard to imagine the unspeakable pain they went through when Qiang was younger.

“Qiang’s birth brought delight to the whole family. I tried my best to be a good mother, but I had to face a difficult reality.”
Zhong became a mother for the first time in 1978. After two days of labor the baby was born, and his parents named him Zong-yan (宗彥).But strangely, the baby didn’t eat during the daytime and didn’t sleep at night. The couple had no experience in taking care of children, so they often had to take turns holding the baby until dawn, an arduous task for both of them. Zhong’s aunt couldn’t stand it anymore and took over the care. The aunt nicknamed the baby “Qiang” after a character in a popular TV children’s show.

After a few months Qiang became stronger, and Zhong then took the boy home. Normally, a baby would learn to sit, crawl and grow teeth at the appropriate times, but the boy never showed any signs of all this. Friends assured Zhong that her baby boy was just a late starter and that she shouldn’t worry about it since he would catch up quickly.

When Qiang was three, he still could neither talk nor walk. Zhong finally mustered up some courage and took him to the doctor. The doctor assessed the boy’s I.Q. at only 60! Zhong couldn’t believe it, so she took him to a medical center for a chromosome test.

When the report came out, the doctor told Zhong, “Your son’s chromosomes are abnormal, but please don’t feel upset. With your love and patience, your son may prove to be a miracle someday.”

Ever since her son was born, Zhong had tried to be a good mother. She listened to talks by childcare professionals, read magazines and books, and consulted with her friends on how best to raise a child. “I wanted to give him the best of everything, but I didn’t expect that he would be so slow in his growth that he couldn’t enjoy what I gave him!”

The sudden, unexpected news was hard to accept, but the doctor’s words still gave Zhong hope. She believed that a miracle would happen if she worked hard enough.

Every day, Zhong and Qiang would take along their boxed lunches to a kindergarten with a special education class. Over 20 years ago, the tuition of NT$5,000 (US$125) along with their house mortgage of another NT$5,000 every month were extremely hard on the couple. Unfortunately, Qiang’s condition did not improve, but Zhong still persisted with the special education for her son.

When it was time for elementary school, Qiang was assigned to a school with a class for mentally challenged children. One day when Zhong picked him up after school, a teacher said to her, “It’s so difficult to teach your son! I’ve been trying to teach him to write for a long time, but he still can’t master it!” These words pierced through Zhong’s heart like a knife, and she really wanted to make some sharp retort. But she held back her anger because she feared that the teacher might not even try to teach Qiang.

Zhong decided to teach her son how to write at home. She put her hand over his to hold a pencil and showed him how to write. But after a while, she lost her patience and started beating the desk with a bamboo stick and yelling at him. When Qiang cried, she cried too.

Zhong was embarrassed when she recalled that back in those tense days, even people living a block away could hear her yelling and crying too.