Editor’s note: In the spring of 2001, the following title headlined Fuzhou Evening News, a local newspaper in Fuzhou, Fujian Province: “An Annual Salary of Two Hundred Thousand Yuan Plus a Car, Former Headmaster of Tsinghua University High School is Now Principal of Fuzhou Jinshan Private Senior High School”. Many parents brought their children to the school, full of expectations. At that time, I was appointed as the school's deputy director of the political office (the position of director was temporarily vacant). As it was a new school, the clubs and organizations among the students were not perfect, and it was my responsibility to set up the school’s student union and youth league committee. The first representative meeting of the youth league committee was planned, and school leaders would like to invite a blind person who had just graduated from university to give a speech to the school representatives. So I went to the Macao Road of Fuzhou City to look for Chen Jun’en. He gladly accepted the invitation from the school and gave a touching inspirational speech to all representatives of the school's youth league committee... That is how I got to know him.
Born in 1963, Chen Jun’en, a native of Fuzhou, was born in an ordinary worker’s family. His father, Chen Cuntan, was the third generation inheritor of Fuzhou’s century-old shop, “Tongli Meat Swallow”. His elder brother, Chen Junfan, becomes the fourth-generation master of the intangible culture.
Chen loved music from childhood. At the age of five or six, he would watch a phonograph keep spinning, listen to the songs from it and learn to sing the songs. In the first grade of primary school, he learned to play the bamboo flute from his brother. When he was in the fourth grade, he found a harmonica in his brother’s box and a book named How to Learn Numbered Musical Notation. That was the beginning of his self-study of music.
Only three months after his first day in junior high school, his vision began to blur and he could not read books anymore. The fourteen-year-old boy sat in the classroom, looking at the blurry scene from the window, unable to understand what the teacher was talking about. He felt extremely sad. When he was in such a mood, these words came to his mind: “Give me back my vision, give me back my youth, and give me back the source of wisdom and intelligence!”
After being blind, Chen was determined to become a useful person by relying on his faith and persistence. With a love for music, he had a guitar teacher giving him special lessons. At that time, his family was not rich, but his father still bought him a guitar because he loved him dearly. His brother bought him a piano at a cost of 3,000 yuan and introduced a professional music teacher to him. He learned that Changchun University enrolls blind students and was successfully admitted to that university through his efforts.
After graduating from the Music Department of the Special Education College of Changchun University in 1991, he was assigned to work as a music teacher in the school for the blind in Fuzhou, where he taught singing to children from primary school to high school. He also set up courses to teach the guitar, electronic organ and other instruments to interest groups. He organized and carried out various activities to help the disabled. He also serves as a member of the 10th CPPCC of Fujian Province and put forward a proposal to send teachers to teach in the homes of severely disabled children, which is implemented in all regions of Fujian Province. He wrote many popular musical works and trained a number of musicians who have graduated from the school for the blind. His students have won six national awards and eight provincial awards. Four of them have been admitted to higher education institutions of music, and five have become the backbone performers of the "Fujian Provincial Disabled People’s Art Troupe".
Chen, who is a disabled person and a volunteer, has organized a provincial team of volunteers to help the disabled and called for suggestions for the cause of helping the disabled. The "Municipal Association for the Blind" led by him has cooperated with volunteer associations to carry out various forms of charity programs to help the disabled and lead the blind out of their houses into nature, guide the blind to achieve barrier-free reading, etc. He has also instructed the blind on smartphone usage and enjoying the convenience brought by scientific and technological advancements.
“Every life has value,” said Chen, chairman of the Fuzhou Blind Association and a member of the 10th Fujian Provincial People’s Political Consultative Conference. “People with disabilities can also live a wonderful life and make a difference.”
As the lyrics of his song “The Living Water of Love Comes From the Sky” has it, “Love is a silent language, the living water of love comes from the sky”. His life is the true portrayal of “once I was blind, now I can see”.
- Translated by Nicolas Cao