Feature Stories

Feature Stories

"Dancing Away Worries"


"In this world, what isn't bothersome? Everything seems troublesome, but as soon as I hear the word 'dance,' all my troubles fade away, and I must go."

Olivia, has been using a wheelchair for over 20 years, but she has been dancing for nearly 20 years as well. Being in a wheelchair brings many inconveniences to her life, making mobility difficult. However, dancing in her wheelchair has allowed her to rediscover herself and soar through life. It may seem contradictory, yet it is a strangely harmonious coexistence. When asked whether life is filled with hardship or happiness for this wheelchair-bound dancer, Olivia confidently and warmly says, "I am happy."

In fact, these words originally came from a fourth-grade girl in a primary school, and at first, Olivia couldn't fully comprehend them.

Many years ago, she was invited by the Hong Kong PHAB Association to share her life story at a primary school. As she spoke about her hemiplegia, family abandonment, friends leaving, and the daily challenges of relying on others for basic needs while fearing discrimination when going out, tears streamed down her face. However, after Olivia's sharing, a primary school student raised her hand and said, "I think Ms. Olivia, after being in a wheelchair, has become happier..."

At that moment, Olivia felt astonished but moved by the explanation of the young girl. "She said that Ms. Olivia didn't receive love from anyone until she started using a wheelchair, where she received love from her friends, assistance from volunteers, opportunities from the school, and help from many little angels...," she began to realize that warmth and love can come not only from family but also from the caring of the centre's girls and volunteers. "Yes, I am truly happy."

In the past, Olivia worked three jobs a day while pursuing further studies. After finishing work at 5:30 PM, she would go to a business school to help with bookkeeping and clerical tasks. At 7 PM, she attended accounting classes to prepare for the CPA exam. After school ended at 9:30 PM, she would go for tutoring sessions. At that time, her mind was consumed by studying, working, and earning money, and she considered dancing a luxury. "Although I loved dancing since primary school, my mother didn't allow it. She wanted me to spend any free time doing household chores or making handicrafts. What kind of dances? What kind of songs? I felt very inferior."

If she hadn't experienced misfortune or had friends encouraging her to go out and receive invitations to learn dancing, and if she hadn't been given opportunities to participate in competitions, Olivia would never have been able to break free from her narrow life. She wouldn't have known her own abilities or the chance to travel around the world and discover how vast it is, nor would she have realized her profound passion for dancing.

The most important thing, she says, is that if it weren't for the reminder from that little girl, she would have never known she was already in a state of happiness.

When asked about the definition of happiness, she says, "Happiness is realizing oneself." Speaking about how dancing helps her achieve self-realization, Olivia's eyes light up, "Latin dance lays the foundation, but it doesn't have much variation. Contemporary dance is liberating, and I particularly enjoy the freedom of jamming and storytelling with a partner. Now, I'm learning Chinese dance, which allows me to incorporate different props and perform solo...". Speaking with genuine enthusiasm, when it comes to encountering jealousy and unfairness during the learning process, she becomes indignant, saying, "Why argue? If you deserve it, you deserve it."

Even so, her conclusion remains, "When troubles arise, dance them away. Although dancing itself can be troublesome, I dance despite any difficulties. Dancing has transformed me from being insecure to confident, even to self-actualization." By self-actualization, she means knowing who she is.

"But to achieve this self-actualization, one needs support. Sometimes, people find themselves trapped within their own limitations and need someone to lift them out." Olivia mentions meeting a young person who needed to amputate their limb due to illness. Unable to accept their situation, they took their own life. Olivia, fortunate enough to have had many people lend her a helping hand, allowing her to navigate through difficult times, cherishes these experiences and strives to give back. "That's why I love going to schools to share with children. When you help others, others will help you."

When asked what she would like to say to children today, she hesitates for a moment, as if recalling the words of that fourth-grade girl, "Actually, I want to hear what the children have to say to me."

"Dear Myself" Self-care Promotion Campaign: http://phab.hk/dearmyself