Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Mar 06th
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Home Our Volunteers Stories The Eco Duo - Neighbors and friends

The Eco Duo - Neighbors and friends

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The Eco Duo
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Neighbors and friends
Qu and Wu met as neighbors; they both lived in Zuoying, Kaohsiung, in the largest housing community for naval personnel in southern Taiwan. They had seen each other around long before they officially met.

"I thought Su-min was stuck-up, because she rarely responded to me when I said 'hi' to her," Wu said. "Only later did I realize that she couldn't see."

Likewise, Qu did not initially think highly of Wu. Qu thought she wasn't a good mother because she never stayed at the poolside to accompany her child during swimming lessons. When the two finally got to know each other better, Qu, a straight talker, asked Wu the reason. In lieu of an answer, Wu took Qu's hand and guided it to touch her legs and back. Qu then realized that Wu's legs were atrophied and her back severely hunched—and that was why Wu never opted to stay by the pool. It was then that they began to empathize with each other.

Typical of the people in her hometown region, Qu wasn't hesitant to speak her mind. Wu, on the other hand, was more reserved. Not until Qu had talked and lightened up their conversation did Wu begin to tell her story.

Wu said that she, of the same age as Qu, was born in 1959, a time when Taiwan was mired in a polio epidemic. Wu was infected when she was about two years old. The disease left her body deformed and crippled. She dreaded school because her schoolmates called her names. They even threw stones at her. Because of that, and also because commuting was not easy for her, she refused to continue school after she had graduated from elementary school. "Only recently did I learn that I was a victim of what is now called campus bullying," she said, referring to some recent high-profile cases of bullying in schools.

As she talked about her past, she occasionally broke off and alerted Qu, who was folding and piling up newspapers, to some details that a blind person could miss. It would have been much easier for Wu to talk to me in Taiwanese, her mother tongue, but she insisted on using Mandarin to ensure that Qu could understand her.

There is a song by Xiao Huang-qi (蕭煌奇), a sight-impaired Taiwanese singer, called "You Are My Eyes," that might capture something of how Qu relies on Wu:

You are my eyes, helping me perceive the changing seasons.
You are my eyes, taking me in and out of crowds.
You are my eyes, reading me seas of books.
Because you are my eyes,
I see the world right in front of my eyes.

Wu may not read Qu seas of books, and she may not help her perceive the beauty of the changing seasons, but she does lead her through crowds and open her world by taking her to do recycling, which she still does three days a week.

"Su-min had no idea what recycling was when I first invited her to participate," Wu said. "She also had a great sense of insecurity due to her lack of sight. She wasn't too keen on going at first." But Wu kept encouraging her, and curiosity and a drive to learn new things helped Qu to take the first step forward. She finally agreed to give recycling a try.

It is not particularly easy for either of them to move around by herself, but together they get around better. Wu leads the way, and Qu helps to steady her.


" Because seeing virtue in others is in itself a virtue, in appreciating others, we in fact dignify ourselves. "
Jing-Si Aphorism

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