Zhang Haidi Elected as President of Rehabilitation International

October 8, 2014
Editor: Amanda Wu
Zhang Haidi Elected as President of Rehabilitation International
President of the China Disabled Persons' Federation Zhang Haidi was elected as the new president of Rehabilitation International (RI) in Warsaw, Poland, on October 6, 2014. [Xinhua/Gao Fan]

President of the China Disabled Persons' Federation Zhang Haidi was elected as the new president of Rehabilitation International (RI) in Warsaw, Poland, on October 6, 2014.

Known as China's Helen Keller, Zhang won the votes of 71 members from 28 countries during the organization's meeting that day.

"As President of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, I have been working with my colleagues to bring better lives to the disabled in China," said Zhang.

"As I have been elected President of the RI, I will share China's experience in developing the cause of the disabled with my colleagues across the world to enable more people with disabilities, especially those in developing countries, to receive better rehabilitation services," added Zhang.

Born in 1955 in east China's Shandong Province, Zhang was left paralyzed from the waist down following four operations to remove tumors from her spine at the age of 5.

Zhang was unable to attend school but through self-study, she learned to read books on politics, literature and medical science. Zhang also learned several foreign languages, including English, Japanese, German and Esperanto.

In 1983, she started her writing career and published several books, such as My Dream on the Wheelchair (1999).

In 1993, Zhang obtained a master's degree in Philosophy from Jilin University in northeast China's Jilin Province.

In 2013, Zhang was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of York, United Kindom, for her achievements in literature and her efforts in promoting the well-being of people with disabilities.

Founded in 1922, the RI is a worldwide network of people with disabilities, service providers, government agencies, academics, researchers and advocates working to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. With member organizations in over 100 countries and in all regions of the world, the RI provides a forum for the exchange of experience and information on research and practice.
 
(Source: Xinhua/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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