Sun, May 07, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Red Cross Society honors volunteers


High school math teacher Hung Hsi-tsung (洪錫璁)has been a volunteer for 20 years at the Taipei branch of Red Cross, going on rescue missions, performing first-aid and helping sick patients.

The work has allowed Hung to many aspects of life and society and has taught him to be more optimistic in life, he said.

The Red Cross Society in Taiwan yesterday celebrated the anniversary of its founding by holding an award ceremony in recognition of the efforts of long-time volunteers like Hung.

"I started volunteering at the age of 19," Hung said. "It was on a whim because I saw that Red Cross was giving training on first aid and I wanted to learn how to do it."

Hung, now 39, has an eight-year-old son who is also eager to learn first aid like his father.

Hung recalled an incident that has had the greatest impact on him in his 20 years of volunteer work. That was when he helped take care of an 80-year-old man and his wife.

The couple was eager to talk to him when he arrived because their sons and daughters, about Hung's age were all grown-up, highly educated and had respectable jobs, but never had time to visit.

"That affected the way I treat my family," Hung said. "I volunteer after work every day, but I treasure the time I spend with my family. And they in turn are very supportive of my volunteer work."

Hung was also involved in the 921 earthquake rescue work.

"It was very stressful. The smell of decay was in the air," Hung said. "But then we found two survivors in the rubble , and the feeling was indescribable."

Another volunteer ,Weng Yen-nan (翁燕喃), 46, has been a Red Cross volunteer for 10 years. Looking a bit shy, Weng kept telling reporters at the event: "I'm just an ordinary volunteer, there's nothing special about me."

Still, Weng was persuaded to recount a little about her life. She said it all started when she wanted to learn how to swim.

"The swimming lessons were given by Red Cross volunteers free of charge," Weng said. "I was struck by how hard and dedicated they were although they did not get any pay at all."

Weng then underwent training and became a certified lifeguard. She is now involved in lifesaving and helps locate bodies in water.

"When I save somebody from drowning, I feel good. Most of [the people] we've helped are students, who, after diving into rivers, had difficulty swimming back to shore," Weng said. "I feel relieved for their parents when I pull them out of the water.

Weng said she was scared the first time she helped the Taipei Fire Bureau locate a body in water.

"We were looking for a body from a Dragon Boat race," Weng said. "The water was murky and we couldn't see a thing. We could only grope around with our hands."

Although she did not find the body that time, Weng said that she stopped being afraid afterwards.

Three years ago Weng was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, but that did not stop her from continuing to do volunteer work.

Chen Charng-ven (陳長文), the society's president, praised the volunteers and reminded everyone that life was not about wealth and fame. Only love and kindness can surpass time, Chen said.

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