German couple help deaf-mute children
Husband, wife supporting handicapped people by employing them
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
Uwe Brutzer and Dorothree Brutzer with four of their Chinese employees at the entrance of their snack shop in Changsha, Hunan province.