By Joyce Zhao; Edited by Katie Hackett
Xiaohe's family has always struggled. Her mom is disabled and her brother is paralyzed, leaving Xiaohe's father with the significant burden of providing for their family.
Xiaohe's birth brought new hope to them, but when she reached Grade 3, tragedy struck again. Xiaohe's legs became so powerless that she could hardly walk unaided. Her anxious father took her to Beijing, where doctors diagnosed her with muscular dystrophy.
"When I received the diagnosis report, I felt my world had collapsed,"
Her dad couldn't afford the expensive costs of medical treatment. He had no choice but to take her home. For the first three years, Xiaohe could still walk short distances and her father would take her to school by motorbike.
After finishing the Grade 5, Xiaohe couldn't stand up or function without a wheelchair and school became impossible.
"I felt really awful at the beginning. It felt like my mom, brother and I would have to live with the evil of disability for life," Xiaohe says. "I felt guilty seeing my parents having a hard life while I couldn't do anything to help them."
When Xiaohe learned about cross-stitching, she immediately felt her life brighten. She asked her dad to buy her a pair of needles. The skill was hard to learn at first because she had no one to ask for help. Her fingers were always being pricked, but she never gave up.
After finishing her first project, she couldn't afford the materials to start a new one, and her bright sky became cloudy.
After learning about Xiaohe's situation, World Vision not only supported her through recovery training, but also provided her with cross-stitching materials. Xiaohe was excited and finished several pieces quickly, but selling the products themselves was even better.
Earning money with her own hands, she says, "My sky is turning blue again."
Last year, Xiaohe attended an embroidery class for people with disabilities.
"These are the happiest days of my life," she said at the time. "Under the tutor's instruction, I've made great progress. The tutor also praised me."
At the closing ceremony for the class, an auction was held to sell the students' work. The event made Xiaohe grateful to know there were so many people offering support.
"I learned not only embroidery skills here, but also that one needs self-confidence," she said. "The needles and thread carry not only my future, but also my strength and dreams. I believe I can embroider my own sky."
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