Taking care of his 62-year-old dad isn’t easy, but nothing could stop Zhang Xiaodong from doing exactly that — not even the fact that he, too, has a disability.
In 2008, Zhang was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease that requires him to use a wheelchair. At this point, he is only able to move his hands and arms. For a while, one of their relatives took on the responsibility of caring for him and his paralyzed dad, who had a stroke, but all of that changed in March 2021 when they moved out.
“My relatives are suffering economically and mentally because of our condition. They are very stressed and are having a hard time. So I want to do something to ease their burden,” Zhang said. “I can’t be selfish.”
Taking care of both himself and his dad isn’t easy, but Zhang has found a way that works, even while receiving just 700 yuan (about $110) a month from the Chinese government.
Beyond learning how to be frugal, Zhang has discovered ways to work around his physical limitations. He lifts himself into his wheelchair each day so he can do important tasks like grocery shopping, preparing meals, and helping his dad wash his face. He has also learned how to give himself a haircut.
Through it all, Zhang has managed to maintain a positive outlook that includes working toward a life-changing goal: saving up for a surgery that would help him stand.
To raise the money, he began sharing clips of his day on social media so others could get a better idea of the struggles they currently face. Since doing so, he has not only raised enough money, but a number of local followers have also taken the time to visit so they can help Zhang in whatever ways they can.
Best of all, a doctor who came across their videos invited Zhang to get a check-up with him so they can see if surgery is possible.
“I really want to undergo joint surgery so I can stand up again and take good care of my father, aunt, and uncle. They’re getting older but don’t have children to look after them. They took care of us for years,” he said. “This is my only goal now, and I’m striving toward it.”
What an incredible way to support the people he loves the most! Get a glimpse into Zhang’s everyday life by watching the video below, and don’t forget to share this story.
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