Global Volunteers helps care the children at Xi’an La La Shou Special Education Center. The school is an amazing place. It was founded in 2002 by two remarkable women, who decided that their handicapped youngsters were not going to be served by anything available in Xi’an. They planned a program, gathered some other mothers, lined up a place, and began working with their students. Eventually they were trained as teachers and licensed by the government—but not funded. So with great perseverance they found donors—foundations, corporations and individual givers—and built their program.
Mrs. Zhang Tao, the co-founder of La La Shou, told the story that made her who she is today.
I was so happy when my son was born. But when he was 1 year old, I realized that there was something usual of him than the normal children. He would not cry, he would not speak, and he seemed could not recognize me as his mom. When he was diagnosed as an autistic child, I became so distressed. I could not believe the fact. I started to take him running about in different hospitals. I even tried to pray to the Gods. I was trying every mean. But nothing helped. He still could not relate the word “ma ma” to me. My heart aches when I thought of that.
I was determined to have him cured. When my son was 3 years old, I decided to quit my job to take care of him. I told myself that I would educate him myself and by 6 years old, he would be able to go to school like any normal child. I left home with my little son and a big traveling bag. I went to many rehabilitation centers seeking for help. However, half-year later, I realized that I was so wrong and selfish. He will be like that in his whole life. I should respect him just the way he is.
I contacted several mothers I acquainted in the hospitals and we started to exchange ideas. I found out I am not the only mother who was distressed. We shared the stories of our own, crying together how unfortunate we were. Gradually, we began to support each other instead of telling the stories and complaining again and again.
I worried what my son would do after I am gone. Pictures of him wondering about in the streets and being bullied by other children went through my mind. I would never leave him like that. So, together with several other mothers, we started the special education center using our own desks, chairs, toys, books, etc. from home. We read books, attend lectures related to special children education, design on our own the teaching method…. After 6 years of unimaginable difficult time, we become much more mature and experienced now. But still, there is great need of social awareness, acceptance, care, and support to the special needs children and their parents. We welcome volunteers to work in our center.
I want to thank my son, who taught me how to love, to respect a life. It is him who also helped me find my profession in which I will devote my whole life.