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YELI VILLAGE, China: A once-barren bank of the Ye river in central China now has 12,000 trees irrigated by a small canal, thanks to unlikely but dedicated gardeners: two friends, one blind and one without arms.The story of Jia Wenqi, 53, with no arms, and his blind friend, Jia Haixia, 54, is one of perseverance, environmental awakening and of finding a path in a country where it is difficult for the disabled to find jobs.Haixia climbs trees to prune them of branches to be used as cuttings to plant new trees, using his hands to feel for the branches.People with disabilities are at a substantial disadvantage in China, a highly competitive society where anti-discrimination laws and policies to encourage hiring of disabled people are not enforced.Wenqi was electrocuted at the age of 3 and both arms were amputated. He performed for many years in a traveling troupe of disabled people in which he demonstrated calligraphy written with his feet. Wenqi said their tree venture's focus was initially commercial, not environmental.
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