I Want to be an Independent Man

Xia Hua, a teenager who has been living in a welfare institution of Guangxi for several years, welcomed his coming-of-age day in January 2018, which signifies his dream of being an adult has come true. However, what does being an “adult” mean? Xia Hua said, “Being an adult means being an independent man, who is able to do his favorite job as well as live a happy life like many other people.”

In spite of being suffered from mental retardation, he is capable of taking care of himself in daily life after receiving rehabilitation training. Yet he is still difficult to catch up with those students from ordinary schools because of his weak concentration and memory. Therefore, he enrolled in the special education class of the welfare institution at the age of 13 and began his study. He learned both general knowledge and social etiquette in the class. And he has been making progress in the past few years. At first, he just learned how to write his name and count the digital numbers. But now he can even read simple picture books, master the method of doing simple calculation of two-digital addition and subtraction, and use a calculator. Not only can he express himself by sentences containing at least two elements, but also he can carry on simple conversation with others.

However, he still needs to learn more to become an independent man who can live independently outside the welfare institution and integrate into the society successfully.

It is extremely hard for people with special needs to have access to job opportunity due to the limited conditions of their language, mental and physical development, the lack of barrier-free facility in their living environment, and the unawareness of disabilities from the public, especially the employers. Thus Xia Hua, as well as other teenagers in the welfare institution, has to overcome much more difficulties than ordinary peers before his career life starts.

In order to help teenagers with mild or medium disabilities to learn life and vocational skills and help them successfully integrate into the society in the future, World Vision has facilitated cooperative welfare institutions in Guangxi to set up vocational class and deliver vocational education course for the teenagers since 2016. Besides, it also provided the teenagers with supports of rehabilitation technical aids and resource referral. What’s more, World Vision invited experts to offer vocational education teachers on-site learning on occupational guidance and assessment of employment ability, so as to enhance the teachers’ professional level.

Xia Hua successfully became a member of the vocational education class after selection conducted in 2018. In the past year, he attended a range of vocational education class, such as living Chinese language, life math, moral and social lesson, family life, gardening, baking, hotel service, car wash, and so on, which makes him more confident about his career life.

In the weekly vocational education class, Xia Hua learned the skills of car washing very carefully. 

Xia Hua (second left) and his peers learned baking skill from the vocational skills practice.

Xia Hua said, “I have learned a lot of new knowledge in the class during the past year. My favorite is the outdoor practical activity.” In the practical activity, he learned how to make a cake, how to buy a subway ticket, and how to take a bus on his own. Project workers and teachers paid much attention to develop the teenagers’ independence by asking them to discuss the place, the content and division of labour of the activity and organizing them to buy activity materials in supermarket. 

Xia Hua (front) learned to buy subway ticket and travel by subway during he had vocational education class.

What impressed Xia Hua most was the outdoor activity named “Build up Teenagers’ Characters” supported by World Vision. This activity aimed to provide the teenagers with opportunity to experience different professional roles, learn new skills, try to face different challenges, and train their wills and courage.

There was a charity sale in the activity. With the help of their teachers, the teenagers set up booth in community. Some of them were responsible for attracting customers by calling and dancing, collecting money, and introducing handworks to customers, while Xia Hua helped to carry activity materials, display their booth and even showed and introduced the handworks to customers bravely. Finally, they raised about 1,000 yuan in the charity sale. Their teacher said excitedly, “What great potential they do have!”

Now Xia Hua keeps working hard and making progress towards his dream of being an independent man. May his dream come true before long!