A beacon of hope
Liu Hsia, better known by her pen name Hsinglintzu, was a remarkable woman. Despite being afflicted by arthritis and depression from a young age, she overcame these troubles to become a noted writer, a presidential advisor, and the founder of the Eden Social Welfare Foundation, helping other disadvantaged people. This inspiring woman won the Wu San-lien Award for social work, as well as the National Award for Arts for her book “Another Kind of Love.”
She first began to suffer from arthritis at the age of twelve. The disease caused her joints to swell, and the chronic pain and inflammation meant that she was unable to attend school. Liu then fell into depression for years until she became a Christian at the age of sixteen, which brought her peace, changing her attitude towards life.
Lin began writing, and was soon published in newspapers. This encouraged her to branch out into writing novels, film scripts, and screenplays. In total, she published forty-five books of her celebrations of life and nature, totaling 1,000 short stories and articles. Apart from “Another Kind of Love,” her books include “Notes by Hsinglin” and “The Ballad of Life.”
Perhaps her most widely read book is “The Song of Life,” published in 1977 to celebrate her mother’s 60th birthday. It was later used in schoolbooks in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore to inspire a new generation.
Her pen name, Hsinglintzu, alludes both to her personal history and her experience of sickness. Meaning “Child of the Apricot Forest,” it refers to the Xinglin Town in Shaanxi Province, where Liu was born. However, “People of the Apricot Forest” is also a traditional epithet for a skilled physician, alluding to a Han Dynasty physician named Dong Feng whose house was surrounded by groves of apricot trees.
Liu also noticed discrimination against people with physical and mental disabilities, and in 1982, she and six colleagues started the Eden Social Welfare Foundation to help them. Originally, the Eden Foundation organized talks, social events, and gospel choirs; today, it has branched out into job training, research, and lobbying the government to increase spending on social welfare and revise the Disabled Welfare Act. It now employs 2,800 people in and outside Taiwan.
Liu’s efforts to help the underprivileged led to her becoming a presidential advisor. Although her disease had left her wheelchair-bound and forced to spend most of her time lying down, her spirit remained undimmed. Her life is an illustration of what people can achieve, despite disability, if they are able to see the optimistic side of life – as Hsinglintzu helped people to do.
More information on her life story can be found here.