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Shanxi Gov't to Help Disabled
The provincial government of Shanxi, in north central China, plans to launch ten projects this year to benefit disabled people. Some 1.4 million, or 4 percent of the province’s population, are handicapped in some form, according to the Shanxi civil affairs department; and 60 percent of them live below the poverty line.

The ten projects were decided at a recent meeting of the Coordination Committee for Disabled Affairs of Shanxi Province, sponsored by the provincial government.

The province will use several methods of raising funds to provide financial and other assistance. It will encourage citizens to get involved through the Heart-of-Gold Project, which will accept donations to help the disabled. Stepped-up publicity campaigns, organized Help the Disabled Day activities and a photo exhibition entitled Song of Love and Care will also help to get the public involved.

Meanwhile, the provincial government will appropriate funds from the public welfare fund lottery to provide aid to those who are in the direst financial straits, providing training and rehabilitation as well as other support.

The province also plans to allocate 2 million yuan (US$242,000), together with special funds contributed by the central government, to renovate the houses of 800 rural families whose households include handicapped members.

Employment security pension contributions of disabled people who are working in public institutions will be waived to bolster the take-home pay of these workers.

Merely providing handouts is not enough: rehabilitation, training and employment are needed to help the disabled truly escape poverty. To this end, construction will begin on a provincial-level, 1,300-square-comprehensive rehabilitation center.

Five million yuan (US$634,000) will be raised to help the handicapped in rural areas to develop local agriculture and animal husbandry industries, including processing downstream products. Several types of special loans will be made available to provide a kick-start for those who are in need.

Various methods will be used to create jobs for some 7,000 others, such as implementing hiring quotas and offering training to those who are capable of operating their own small businesses.

Other assistance includes offering cataract surgery to 13,000 patients and providing vision aids to another 1,000 sight-impaired people. Rehabilitation training will be given to 1,000 physically and mentally handicapped children, and 443 hearing-impaired kids will receive language training.

( by Zhang Tingting, March 25, 2004)

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