They often say that adversity develops character – something that might hold true for survivors of grave tragedies. While others lose hope over the gravity of the situation, some find their own strength to move on and go forward. Just like this woman who went through a series of tragedies but emerged from the quake tougher and better – like a diamond under pressure.
Liao Zhi is a survivor of the deadly earthquake in Sichuan, China in 2008. The devastating quake struck the mountainous province and destroyed four-fifths of the structures in the area. Based on the official assessment of the Chinese government, nearly 90,000 people were declared and presumed dead from the tragedy. Aside from these, almost 375,000 were injured – including Liao.
Liao lived in a three-story apartment with her family when the disaster struck. The earthquake resulted in the collapse of her building, burying her and her 10-month old daughter under the stony rubble.
“Under the rubble, I kept singing to my daughter, who was 10 months old, to keep her awake. But I eventually lost her. I have regrets and doubts about my protective ability as a mother,” she recalled to South China Morning Post.
Thanks to the tireless rescuers, Liao was eventually pulled out from the debris, but lost her legs in the process because these had to be amputated below the knees. Seven months after the quake, another blow struck Liao: her husband left her.
She was recuperating in the hospital when volunteers wanted to know if she would like to dance in a show. Liao said yes, thinking it would be her final performance. She was a dance teacher when the quake claimed her legs.
Despite her bandaged and bleeding wounds, Liao persevered and performed for a full house. Everyone in the audience was stunned but netizens thought otherwise.
Liao got herself prosthetic legs and taught herself to dance again. Her redemption? Winning the reality dance contest “Dance Out My Life” in 2013 as she and her partner triumphed over 40 contestants to claim the runner-up spot.
More than that, Liao was also a finisher for the 5-km marathon in Shanghai back in 2013, conquering another milestone in her life.
However, she discovered that her prosthetic legs were not made for running and could damage her knees. Liao was later fitted for another pair tailored for running – and that’s when she met Charles Wang, a prosthetics specialist.
Charles helped people to learn how to get used to their ‘new’ legs by watching their walk. Little did Liao know that she would eventually walk down the aisle with Charles.
A year later, Liao and Charles are starting a new family, and in 2015, her life story was turned into a play entitled “Angel’s Psalm”.
Despite her handicap, Liao didn’t just stop at being an accomplished dancer and runner. She also helped with the relief efforts when another earthquake flattened Sichuan in 2013. Although others doubted her sincerity, Liao said that she extended help to the victims as her way of paying it forward, according to Global Times.
What could you say about this story? Do you know someone as strong and resilient as Liao? Share your thoughts and comments in the section below.