Over the years, Cheng Mei-chu (鄭美珠), 43, has received many looks because of her wrinkled skin and 11 fingers, but her physical disability never stopped her from pursuing her passion for art.
“I have an interest in painting, sports and literature. I have full control over my life,” Cheng said during a ceremony in Taipei. “When facing life’s challenges, one should have the courage to showcase his or her talents, have a free mind and never waste energy on unsolvable problems.”
Cheng, who was born with Ichthyosis — a severe genetic skin disorder — was among the 12 recipients of this year’s Fervent Global Love of Lives Award, chosen from 1,929 domestic and internal candidates by the Chou Ta-Kuan Foundation.
Cheng, now an art student pursuing a master’s degree, is known for the imagination displayed in her artwork, which often features scenery from her hometown in Penghu.
Despite occasional discrimination, she said she dreamed of creating a museum of art in Penghu, where she could share her joy and the beauty of the outlying islands with more people.
Another recipient was Mark Inglis, a New Zealand mountaineer who lost both legs during an intense blizzard in 1982 and later dedicated his life to helping physically disadvantaged individuals.
US columnist and psychologist Daniel Gottlieb also received the award for his battle with paralysis.
Also on the list was Wu Chung-yun (吳中云), a third grader from Taichung who became completely blind as a result of a brain tumor, but who continues to paint.