A tiny giant – A second life for social worker Haibo


The lady has worked tirelessly for 20 years, powered by her strong faith and an indomitable will. She has provided career skills training for over 500 disabled people, empowering them to be part of society. She has collected over two million Renminbi in scholarships so that young people from almost 3,000 poverty-stricken families could finish their studies and achieve their dreams. She has successfully recruited almost 20,000 volunteers, drumming into their hearts the truth of serving others - “Happiness is giving love, giving love is joy.”

Haibo is chairing a session of

social development workers

This lady is Ding Haibo, president of the Changchun XinYu Volunteer Association. She is only 86cm tall, because she has congenital brittle bone syndrome. Once her scoliosis reached the point when it put pressure on her heart, she had to start using a wheelchair. Despite all this, she didn’t indulge in self-pity, but rather taught herself college level Chinese literature and psychology. Then she used all she had learnt to start a free counseling hotline in 1995. Since that time, she has taken over 36,000 phone calls for counseling and answered over 7,000 letters asking for advice. In 1996, with the help of other volunteers, she established the Changchun XinYu Volunteer association. Almost her whole life was concentrated on serving other people.

Haibo established her own volunteering organisation and was honored with

various priczes for her engagment

Ding Haibo is the recipient of a number of awards honoring her outstanding success in the areas of public welfare, specifically helping people with disabilities, supporting scholarships and counseling, as well as recruiting volunteers. Under the strain of sustained exhaustion and pressure, Ding Haibo’s health deteriorated. On 14 June 2014, she was admitted to the Jilin University Hospital with a sudden cerebral hemorrhage. Apart from the subarachnoid hemorrhage, further examination revealed that Haibo also had an aneurism as well as basilar invagination. The doctors explained that if such an aneurism were to rupture, the patient would quickly lose consciousness and may die. They also said that once the basilar invagination developed to a certain point, symptoms would include severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, and sudden death. Given the complexity of the disease, the hospital recommended that Haibo be transferred to a better equipped hospital. Haibo’s family, friends and supporters pleaded with various medical personnel and, as a result, St Mary’s Hospital in Hong Kong agreed to accept Haibo for treatment. The doctors suggested that a preliminary examination should be carried out at a hospital in Shenzen, after which she would be taken to Hong Kong for treatment. This was done in order to reduce the economic burden on Haibo, because they understood that Haibo had spent many years helping others and only had limited savings.

Haibo receives treatment in Shenzhen

from a Hong Kong University Hospital doctor

On August 2nd, Ding Haibo arrived safely in Shenzhen, accompanied by her husband and colleagues. After considering various factors, experts finally decided to take the least risky intervention surgery option. Haibo was transferred to Hong Kong, where she underwent surgery. Everything went smoothly. Haibo’s family and friends kept her company through it all, their hearts filled with both joy and concern. The joy was because Haibo had survived! They were worried, though, about the high costs of surgery. Even with everyone chipping in what they could, they still owed over one million RMB in medical bills. In addition to this, there was ongoing rehabilitation treatment and further medical examinations, not to mention the costs incurred by having a child preparing to enter senior high school. This was a too heavy burden for a family whose total monthly income is less than 5000 RMB a month.

Amity Foundation’s Enjiu Care Fund heard about the practical difficulties faced by Haibo and immediately began looking into her case. 100 000 RMB was allocated to help pay for Haibo’s treatment, with 50 000 RMB being paid on September 5th as soon as it was confirmed that Haibo’s situation did indeed met the conditions of this fund. Enjiu Care Fund believes that Ding Haibo is an example of how a person with major disabilities can get on with life without being crushed. She has overcome pain, she faces life optimistically and has thrown herself into social work. She is well respected for her almost 20 years of unremitting service to society, as well as urging young people to take part in volunteer work. She is not just a prominent figure in Chinese social service circles because of all she has done, but she also symbolizes a modern public spirit. What Haibo does is much more than just one woman’s personal effort. She epitomizes the work of charity in general.

Volunteers visit Haibo at the Jilin University First Hospital

Haibo is reading encouraging

get-well wishes at the hospital

Amity Foundation established the Enjiu Care Fund on September 9th, 2013. It exists primarily to care for workers in public benefit organizations. Social workers often dedicate their life to philanthropy and relinquish material and security benefits. They are not backed by savings or a public health insurance, which only covers basic needs, and are vulnerable to strokes of fate. The Enjiu Care Fund provides financial supports for people (and their family members) who have worked for at least three years in this line of work when something unexpected happens to them, such as a major illness, accident or other such difficulty. A worker or family member, in a public benefit organization can only be assisted once in this way and that only up to a maximum grant of 100 000 RMB. At this point in time, in addition to Haibo, the fund has supported two more social workers in public welfare organizations.

Translation by Suzanne Row