Ger­man cou­ple help deaf-mute chil­dren

Hus­band, wife sup­port­ing hand­i­capped peo­ple by em­ploy­ing them

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By WEN XINZHENG in Chang­sha and HOU LIQIANG in Bei­jing Con­tact the writers at houliqiang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

It’s not dif­fi­cult to find for­eign­ers who have been in China for more than a decade. But it is not often you find a cou­ple such as Uwe Brutzer and Dorothree Brutzer, who have been in China for 14 years de­spite be­ing al­most un­able to make ends meet.

While they are own­ers of a West­ern snack shop in Chang­sha, cap­i­tal of Cen­tral China’s Hu­nan prov­ince, they con­sider their pri­or­ity to be run­ning God’s er­rands, devot­ing their time to help­ing deaf-mute chil­dren.

The duo are known as Wu Zhen­grong and Du Xue­hui, and hav­ing been in China for so long, they are able to speak Man­darin.

In 2002, they went to Chang­sha, a more than 17-hour jour­ney by air from Ger­many, after Uwe read a re­port on Chi­nese deaf-mute peo­ple, which made him “de­ter­mined to do some­thing for them”.

The 46-year-old joined a charity pro­gram which looked after deaf-mute chil­dren all round the prov­ince and helped them with speech re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion train­ing.

In Chang­sha, the cou­ple spent day after day beat­ing gongs or drums to stim­u­late the chil­dren’s au­di­tory nerves, and help­ing them to rec­og­nize images. The cou­ple also helped chil­dren in many other cities in Hu­nan, in­clud­ing Shaoyang, Xiangxi and Yongzhou.

Their ef­forts paid off. Among the 500 chil­dren they helped, many are now able to speak after re­ceiv­ing their train­ing, and a few are even able to com­mu­ni­cate fully.

How­ever, due to com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues, they found many of the chil­dren were un­able to se­cure em­ploy­ment as they grewup.

In late 2011, Uwe and Dorothree opened a West­ern snack shop. With the help of a Ger­man charity, Uwe found a Ger­man worker with more than 20 years ex­pe­ri­ence train­ing deaf­mute peo­ple, who helped train Chi­nese deaf-mute peo­ple in the shop for four years be­fore re­turn­ing to Ger­many. Uwe con­tin­ues the work he started.

Uwe named the shop after J.S. Bach’s Chi­nese name Ba He and hoped tomake the best snacks, just like Bach made the best mu­sic. How­ever, run­ning the shop is no easy task, given the cost of rental fees and salaries for its 10 em­ploy­ees. Five of them are deaf­mute peo­ple.

The shop was orig­i­nally lo­cated on Taip­ingjie street, but the rental fee of 10,000 yuan ($1,500) per month forced the cou­ple to re­lo­cate to a small lane named Xiang-chunx­i­ang.

The hus­band said lower rental fees re­lieved him of fi­nan­cial strains and al­lowed him to con­cen­trate more on mak­ing qual­ity bread. “I only fol­low one prin­ci­pal: use the best in­gre­di­ents to make bread with re­lent­less ef­fort,” he said.

The shop has many reg­u­lar cus­tomers, de­spite be­ing lo­cated in a small lane with lim­ited foot traf­fic. How­ever, it’s still dif­fi­cult to make ends meet. “The cur­rent daily turnover in sum­mer is only about 1,000 yuan. We may pocket about 2,000 yuan per day when busi­ness is good, but that is only enough to break even,” he said.

The monthly pay­ment for each em­ployee is about 4,000 yuan, with so­cial in­surance in­cluded.

“My wife also op­er­ates ed­u­ca­tion projects with two of her friends. While co­op­er­at­ing with a Hong Kong-based foun­da­tion, she is also try­ing to raise funds in Ger­many,” he said. The funds are used for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion train­ing for deaf-mute chil­dren ages 2 to 6, and to sup­port stu­dents from poverty-stricken fam­i­lies in spe­cial schools in Chang­sha and Huai­hua city, also in Hu­nan.

For their kind deeds, the cou­ple have sac­ri­ficed a lot. For ex­am­ple, Uwe was un­able to go home to visit his par­ents be­fore they passed away. But cer­tain mo­ments help con­firm that their sac­ri­fices are worth­while, such as when a deaf­mute girl they had helped was en­rolled at univer­sity, which is not easy in China.

Uwe said their per­se­ver­ance is born out of love of God. “God loves ev­ery­body and we think ev­ery­one de­serves equal op­por­tu­ni­ties. We want to be peo­ple who cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

We want to be peo­ple who cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties.” Uwe Brutzer, who, with his wife, runs a snack shop and de­votes time to help­ing deaf­mute chil­dren

FENG ZHI­WEI / CHINA DAILY

Uwe Brutzer and Dorothree Brutzer with four of their Chi­nese em­ploy­ees at the en­trance of their snack shop in Chang­sha, Hu­nan prov­ince.

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