(August 2, 2004 Hong Kong) International philanthropist Mr. Li Ka-shing today met with Mr. Wang Xinxian, Vice Chairman of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), who updated Mr. Li on the progress of the Cheung Kong New Milestone Program, a joint initiative between the Li Ka-shing Foundation and the CDPF.
Mr. Wang said The Cheung Kong New Milestone Program has helped to provide tens of thousands of prosthetics for poverty-stricken amputees. “Mr. Li’s donation has served as seed money and helped to raise Government and public awareness of the plight of the disabled.”
The Foundation has been a long-standing supporter of CDPF, having contributed approximately HK$208 million for various programs over the years. The Foundation’s funds have helped to restore eyesight to 1.07 million cataract sufferers, provide visual aid for 40,000 visually impaired, offer language training for 60,000 deaf children, establish a network of service centres for the disabled in 30 provinces and autonomous regions, and initiate services for the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of polio victims. All told, over 10 million disabled persons have benefited.
The Cheung Kong New Milestone Program was established with initial capital of HK$100 million. The program consists of five projects to be implemented between 2000 and 2005, namely, cost-effective prosthetics, training for deaf teachers, schooling of blind children, general services for the disabled, and training for blinds masseurs.
Prosthetics developed by CDPF are internationally recognized for their quality. The Cheung Kong Cost-effective Prosthetics Program aims to lower the cost of below-the-knee and above-the-knee prosthetics for 60,000 amputees, establish 200 fitting stations, and groom 400 technicians. A longer-term objective is to build a nationwide service network for all amputees.
At the end of 2003, nearly 30,000 amputees have been fitted with prosthetics and given the opportunity to stand on their own. The second phase of the program is already underway.
The Foundation has also funded the Hearing and Language Rehabilitation College, a joint venture between CDPF and the Beijing Union University that trains professional teachers for the hearing impaired. At the end of 2003, over 300 students have been admitted, and 213 of the school’s graduates are now among the first professionally trained teachers for deaf children.
Special classes or schools are being planned in 12 provinces that will be able to admit blind children. 2,800 school teachers will also be trained to teach blind children in the classroom setting. The aim is to help enroll 18,000 poverty-stricken blind children in schools and raise their enrollment rate to around 80%.
Last year, 13,200 blind children were admitted to school for the first time, and 2,870 teachers received professional training to instruct visually impaired students.
Since 2000, the CDPF has been providing aid for 35,000 blind masseurs in 31 provinces and autonomous regions and has published 35,000 sets of Braille or recorded training manuals. As of the end of last year, 30,260 blind masseurs have been trained, 446 instructors have been prepared, and 42,997 sets of training manuals have been published and distributed.
Mr. Li was pleased with the progress of the Cheung Kong New Milestone Program and encouraged CDPF to continue to work for the benefit of the disabled.
Mr. Li recalled in 2001 when he visited a rehabilitation centre for the disabled in Lanzhou, Gansu province. Mr. Li witnessed first hand how an amputee fitted with a prosthetic could start a new life and take care of his family.
Mr. Wang conveyed to Mr. Li the gratitude and appreciation of Mr. Deng Pufang, Chairman of CDPF.
Mr. Deng wrote, “Since its inception four years ago, the Cheung Kong New Milestone Program has had a deep and profound impact on the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and its efforts to help poverty stricken disabled persons to realize their dreams of rehabilitation, education and employment.”
According to Mr. Deng, Mr. Li’s contributions have helped to improve the lives of 15 million disabled persons. Mr. Li’s seed money served not only as a source of funding but also induced policy changes that drove the development of the disabled industry that has received increasing public support.
Mr. Li’s contributions to the CDPF have created such wide-ranging social benefits that the Government has continually increased its funding for the disabled. Now the Government spends $10 for every $1 donated by Mr. Li. More importantly, the funding raised the general public’s awareness of the plight of the disabled, encouraging them to make donations. Many provincial governments also began to establish services to assist the disabled.