Across China: Life blossoms for disabled people selling flowers online

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-18 19:33:19|Editor: huaxia

HEFEI, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- On the second floor of a building in Nanjing Road, a spacious room is awash with the sound of keyboard typing, phone calls, and occasional laughter.

Located in the city of Fuyang, east China's Anhui Province, it's part of an "incubation base" for a group of young people selling fresh flowers online. But there is something special about the posse of them: they are all people with disabilities.

"Don't worry, your flowers have been sent and will arrive tomorrow," the wheelchair-bound Zhang Li typed in a dialogue online. She then quickly typed in the words, "I will ask them to make it quick," and ending the sentence with a cute, smiling emoji.

Zhang, 35, lost her legs in an accident when she was a child. A resident of Fuyang's Yingzhou District, she currently handles aftersales inquiries for a flower shop on Taobao, a major platform under China's e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba. The flower shop is called Fuyang Qianhuahui Commercial and Trade Co., Ltd. Zhang was introduced to the company in May last year by the local disabled persons' federation.

"Before, I could not live on my own, and I was trying to make some money by doing odd jobs," Zhang said. "I felt like the new job at Qianhuahui added color to my life."

The "incubation base" was developed by Fuyang's disabled persons' federation. It provides guidance for disabled people wanting to start businesses, teaches them to inherit intangible cultural heritage, trains their vocational skills, and shows them how to make souvenirs. It aims to help disabled people master a skill so that they can live better lives.

The flower shop is one of the companies in the incubation base. Yang Daolin, who helped establish the company, suffered from poliomyelitis when he was young, and could not walk like other people.

In 2019, Yang accidentally bumped into the fresh flower business online and began to expand a huge flower empire, with more than 200 hectares of plantation areas, stretching from southwest China's Yunnan Province to the provinces in northeast China. The flowers are sold via e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, JD.com, and Pinduoduo. Today, average daily parcels exceed 30,000, and the flowers the company sells online account for about 20 percent of the country's total.

Zhang Li said she is very grateful to Yang for giving her a respectable job and allowing her to live a life that she always dreamed of.

"What I do is the same as other 'normal' people, and I get the same paycheck," she said. "I can make more than 3,000 yuan (about 444 U.S. dollars) a month, and the company covers social insurance. These are things I never imagined."

The company currently employs more than 260 people, including more than 180 engaging in online sales. It has provided jobs to more than 200 impoverished and disabled people. Of the company's online salespeople, more than 20 are disabled.

"As a disabled person myself, I know all the pain and difficulties of this group of people in their lives and in finding jobs," said Yang Daolin. "I hope that I can bring more equal opportunities for them."

Yang said that handling online aftersales requires simple typing and communication, and his company employs many disabled people.

China has around 85 million people with disabilities, according to a white paper issued by the State Council Information Office in July last year.

To help disabled people find jobs or start businesses, Fuyang's disabled persons' federation provided free offices and storage facilities to Yang and transformed an underground garage into a cold storage facility for the company's fresh flowers. Water and electricity are also free of charge.

"We have a variety of policies to help disabled people find jobs, including training programs and different, flexible job positions," said Li Du, with the employment service of Fuyang's disabled persons' federation. "We also hold online and offline recruitment sessions for disabled college students."

By the end of August, the city of Fuyang had supported 1,001 disabled people to start businesses, helped about 900 disabled people undergo vocational training, provided practical skills training for 1,900 disabled people in rural areas, and found new jobs for 90 disabled people. The city government also allocated subsidies of more than 7 million yuan to more than 1,000 disabled people.

"I feel like my life is blossoming like the flowers these days," said Zhang Li. Enditem

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