超越障礙,與風競逐的陳美玉

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2002 / 11月

文‧宋英 圖‧陳美玉提供


王爾德說:「與其詛咒黑暗,不如點盞燈火。」

天黑了,萬家燈火璀璨,人類社會是沒有黑暗的,因為我們都是點燈的人。

陳美玉,伊甸社會福利基金會資源募集中心主任,中度殘障的她,自己活得積極,更發揮無窮的熱力幫助身心障礙的朋友,她的樂觀親切也感染了社會上更多的人,而讓基金會的資源籌募工作做得有聲有色。


她,坐在對面,盈盈秋波,笑語人生,美貌自信。你會猜測,她或許是一名記者或電視主持人吧!但,你很難想像,當她站起來,卻是位須要靠支架及拐杖才能行走的中度殘障者。

三十三歲的她──陳美玉,明眸皓齒,彷彿是被精雕細琢的一塊美玉,通過身體的殘障,她把生命活得更有意義與希望。目前她擔任伊甸社會福利基金會資源募集中心主任,將基金會最重要的資源籌募工作,做得有聲有色。她說:「我是一個身心障礙的人,能藉由工作幫助其他身心障礙的朋友,這不只是一份工作,而是可以幫助人的事業,我的生命因此而喜悅,比起別人,我是多麼幸運呀!」

接近她的人都喜愛她的樂觀與親切。身心障礙的朋友看到她會重新燃起生命希望之火,而想:「她可以,我也可以」;善心的捐款人看到她,會將她視如親人般信任與接近。

殘障畢竟是痛苦的事,沒有人願意接受這樣的命運,有的人活得十分艱辛,而有的人能通過殘障活出積極的人生,如海倫.凱勒的故事。陳美玉,可以說是台灣的海倫.凱勒吧!

一九六九年出生的陳美玉,桃園埔心人。父親陳耀庚經營山產小生意,母親邱有妹善於理家,含辛茹苦養育七名子女。陳美玉排行老二,是個健康可愛的小娃娃。一九七一年正值台灣最後一次小兒痲痹症的大流行期,當時的美玉已經會扶著東西走路了。那年的冬天,她突然連續兩天兩夜高燒不退,媽媽帶去看醫生,退燒後,以為沒事了,所以並未特別再留意。過了幾天,媽媽發現不對勁,這孩子怎麼放在椅子上、床上都不能坐,一放下去就哭著倒下去。於是又再緊急送醫,醫生說孩子已經感染了小兒痲痹症。經過一段時間治療,陳美玉恢復只有單下肢受殘,算是比較幸運的了。

陳美玉慢慢懂事之後發現,她和其他小孩不一樣。為什麼人家常常笑她:「ㄅㄞ ㄎㄚ(跛腳)」,「什麼叫做『ㄅㄞ ㄎㄚ』?」這字眼讓她小小的心靈充滿了恨,常常想:「有一天我睡醒起來,你們所有人的腳也會跟我一樣ㄅㄞ ㄎㄚ!」

國小三年級,有一天放學回家的路上,有三個男生一直在她背後學她甩腳走路的姿態,並大聲嘲笑她,她心如刀割,恨不得那些男生立刻消失掉,忍著淚水奔回家,嚎啕大哭的問父親:「我為什麼長成這樣子,被人笑跛腳?」

父親流著淚安慰她:「他們不懂事,沒有惡意傷害你,不用去理會。至於妳的病,爸媽已盡全力救治了,命中註定如此,妳要堅強起來。」那是她第一次看到父親流淚,此後她為了不讓爸媽傷心,儘量調整自己的情緒,直到今天。

父母親並不因為她的腳不方便,就凡事幫她處理,反倒訓練她盡可能去做事。媽媽對她說:「父母可以養妳一時,但不可能養妳一輩子。」她唯一的特權是不必搬重的東西。

就讀瑞埔國小四年級時,班導師廖老師鼓勵她勇敢參加郊遊,去台北圓山動物園玩,她走累了,老師就揹她,走一段揹一段,看到大象、長頸鹿等各種動物,發現世界真奇妙,開心的玩了一天,沒想到卻害老師被同學責怪偏心。從此她警惕自己要更加獨立起來,不要成為別人的負擔。只要自己能做的事,絕不假手他人,甚至下決心要超越一般人,挑戰更高難度的事情。比如後來在一九九五年十二月參加五百里輪椅南北路跑活動,以五天的時間,從高雄起跑,用手推輪椅回到台北。一九九六年七月,她更代表台灣,參加在英國所舉行的世界輪椅運動會,獲得競賽四百公尺銅牌的殊榮。每一項比賽,都說明了陳美玉的恆心與毅力,不但超越了她個人最大的極限,更令許多正常人自嘆不如。

陳美玉半工半讀完成高中學業後,先工作了一年多,便去振興醫院開刀復健,復健後她前往新竹參加電腦職業訓練。一九九一年元月,她被安排參加伊甸基金會桃園分會的徵才面試,幸運的被錄取。

十年來,她為無數身心障礙朋友謀合工作,開辦社區婦幼課程,並為許多重度殘障朋友及獨居老人提供養護服務,目前全力為伊甸推動資源募集的工作。

她總是以「沒有不能的事,只問你有沒有試過各種方法」來策勉身心障礙的朋友。她珍惜與人相處的每一分每一秒,因著她以真誠澆灌每一粒善心的種籽,使得募集來的資源都能順利推動各項社會服務。

她喜歡競速輪椅時與風追逐的快感。她的每一分秒正與時間競走,她生命中的障礙並沒有擊倒她,卻猶如燭火的燈芯,不斷燃燒著溫暖耀人的火焰。

p.106

與風競速的女孩陳美玉,長得清純可愛,她可是伊甸社會福利基金會的資源籌募高手。

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近期文章

EN

"The Candle Lighters"-- Rising Above Challenge to Chase the Wind: Chen Mei-yu

Michelle Sung Ing /photos courtesy of courtesy of Chen Mei-yu /tr. by Butler Waugh

Oscar Wilde wrote, "Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." When skies are dark and ten thousand lights are flickering, human society is not dark, because we are all candle lighters.

Chen Mei-yu is the director of the Resource Contributions Department at the Eden Social Welfare Foundation. Physically challenged, she leads an active life and uses her boundless energy to help similarly challenged friends. Her optimism and sincerity are infectious, touching people throughout society, and she has brought the fundraising activities of the Eden Foundation wide recognition.


She's sitting across from me, brimming with energy, laughing, pretty, and confident. You would guess that she might be a reporter, or perhaps a television host. Yet it would be hard to imagine she needs support to stand or crutches to walk.

Chen Mei-yu, 33 years old, bright and lovely, seems like a beautiful piece of delicately carved jade. Although physically challenged, she has filled her life with meaning and hope. As director of the Resource Contributions Department at the Eden Foundation her efforts have created greater public awareness of the foundation's important fundraising work. She says, "I'm a physically challenged person helping other physically and mentally challenged people. It's not just a job; it's a mission to help people. Because of this my life is filled with joy. I'm so fortunate compared with most people!"

When people get close to her they're charmed by her optimism and sincerity. When other challenged people see her they feel renewed hope, and think to themselves, "If she can do it, I can do it." When goodhearted contributors meet her, they soon trust her and feel as close to her as if she were family.

Being physically challenged is, of course, heartbreaking. No one would willingly accept this destiny. There are some who live in great hardship, and there are others who can still live an active life, as Helen Keller did. You could say that Chen Mei-yu is Taiwan's Helen Keller.

Chen Mei-yu was born in 1969 in Puhsin, Taoyuan County. Her father Chen Yao-keng had a small business in mountain products, her mother Chiu You-mei was a good homemaker, and together they raised seven children. The second oldest, Chen Mei-yu was a cute, healthy baby. In 1971 as the last epidemic of polio was sweeping Taiwan, Mei-yu was just learning to walk. In the winter of that year, she suddenly developed a fever that lasted two days and two nights. Her mother brought Mei-yu to the hospital, and when the fever subsided she thought everything was fine. But after a few days Mei-yu's mother discovered there was something wrong. No matter how she placed the infant in a chair or on the bed, she would just fall over and start crying. Her mother rushed the baby to the hospital and a doctor told her Mei-yu had contracted polio. After therapy, Mei-yu recovered with only one side paralyzed and today considers herself fortunate.

As Chen Mei-yu grew a little older she discovered that she was not the same as other children. She wondered why others called her "Gimpy." What was this word "Gimpy?" It was a word she grew to hate. She would often wish, "One day I'll wake up and everyone will have legs like mine, and we'll all be gimpy!"

In the third grade, one day after school three boys followed behind her dragging their feet and pretending to fall down, loudly laughing "Gimpy!" Her heart felt as though it was cut with a knife, and she wished that the three boys would disappear. Stifling tears as she hurried home, she was crying loudly as she asked her father, "Why did this happen to me? Why do people laugh and call me Gimpy?" Her father started to cry and console her, saying, "They don't mean to hurt you, don't try to understand it. Your mother and I did everything we could to make your disability better. This is what life has given you, you just have to try and be strong." That was the first time she saw her father cry. Afterwards she wouldn't allow her parents to feel such pain, and she has ever since done everything she can to keep her own emotions upbeat.

Her parents would not help her avoid everyday tasks just because of the inconvenience of her disability. They felt this would help train her for work. Her mother said, "We can support you for a time, but we won't be able to support you all of your life." The only special treatment she received was that she didn't have to lift anything heavy.

While in the fourth grade at Juipu elementary school, her teacher Mr. Liao encouraged her to take part in a field trip to the Taipei zoo. Chen Mei-yu became tired and the teacher had to carry her. She would walk part way and then be carried part way. Seeing the elephant, giraffe and other animals, she discovered the wonders of the zoo and enjoyed the whole day. But to her dismay the other students blamed the teacher for playing favorites. After this she decided to become even more independent to guard against burdening others. As long as she can do a task, she won't let others do it for her.

Chen Mei-yu even resolved to be better than others and to take on ever more difficult challenges, such as the 500-kilometer wheelchair race on the North-South Expressway in February 1995. Starting in Kaohsiung the race took five days as Chen propelled her wheelchair back to Taipei. In July of 1996, she represented Taiwan in a world wheelchair competition held in Britain, and won a bronze medal in the 400-meter race. Each competition shows Chen's persistence and willpower. She not only surpasses her own greatest limits, she also makes others exclaim in appreciation.

Chen Mei-yu worked part-time and studied part-time to complete high school. She worked for a year and then went to Cheng Hsin Hospital for surgery and rehabilitation. After rehabilitation she moved to Hsinchu for vocational computer training. In January 1991 she interviewed for the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and was recruited. During the past nearly 12 years she has helped countless physically and mentally challenged people find jobs, organized community classes for women and children, and provided support services for many disabled friends and seniors living alone. Currently her focus is fundraising.

She often encourages her physically and mentally challenged friends with: "Nothing's impossible, just ask yourself if you have tried everything." She cherishes every moment that she spends with people, and nourishes every seed of charity with her sincerity, allowing the resources collected to smoothly promote services to society.

She loves the thrill of the wind chasing her when racing her wheelchair. Her every moment is a race with time. For all of the challenges in her life, she is the wick in a candle, her flame warmly shining on those around her.

p.106

Chen Mei-yu racing with the wind. She is young and lovely, and skilled at raising contributions for the Eden Social Welfare Foundation.

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