Mother honored for overcoming adversity

By Hsieh Chieh-yu and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, May 10, 2013 - Page 5

A woman from Nantou County was bestowed on Tuesday with the honor of being a “Model Mother” for overcoming physical disability while raising her family.

Seventy-year-old Yen Chiung-hsia (顏瓊霞) was diagnosed with polio when she was an infant, and the disease left her unable to walk.

Having to live with polio through her childhood, Yen said she had to crawl on her hands to move about, as the county’s healthcare system was not very advanced at the time.

It was only when she enrolled in elementary school at the age of seven that the school supplied her with crutches.

“The path of my life has been long and very difficult. However, one must never give up. If you keep going, the darkness will pass and you will see the dawning light of the new day,” Yen said.

Aged 31, Yen had an operation at National Taiwan University Hospital, and eight months later she was fitted with corrective orthopedic shoes.

It was not until she was 32 that she was able to walk unassisted, which was “the fulfillment of a childhood dream,” she said.

Yen went on to start a successful business, got married and had children.

After completing several tailoring and dress designing courses, she returned to her hometown of Shueili Township (水里) and opened a clothing store.

Yen showed her affection for her hometown by teaching sewing classes to residents.

She married at the age of 39 and gave birth to a daughter four years later.

While taking care of her family, her father-in-law was diagnosed with dementia and so she was also occupied with taking care of him.

At the age of 48 Yen was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Although her health is stable, she has fallen a number of times due to her disability and broken several bones as a result, she said, adding that she had to undergo a hip operation last year.

“My life might seem to be filled with many difficulties. However, my heart is always grateful. I want to thank God for helping me overcome the many hurdles in my life,” she said.

“I want to tell people with similar conditions and life experiences as me not to wallow in self-pity,” she added. “They must believe in themselves, work hard and make an effort. One can create opportunities and thus turn adversity into prosperity.”

Yen was among the 17 women who received this year’s “Model Mother” award from the Nantou County Government.

This year’s oldest award recipient was 102-year-old grandmother Lin Huang Chen (林黃真).