Chia-chia (佳佳), A-ta (阿達), Yen-hao (彥豪), Che-wei (哲緯), Chen-hua (振華), Hui-ying (慧瑛), Meng-hua (萌鏵) and Yi-ning (藝寧) used to live in despair — and even felt lost. However, they were a picture of hope yesterday, as they showed the world that they have grown up and are able to help others like how they were once helped.
The eight people are all from economically disadvantaged families and received financial and academic assistance as children from volunteers and social workers at the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF).
Now they're in high school or college and they decided to spend their summer vacation in the Himalayas helping children in a remote village in Nepal as a way of giving back to society.
“In the past, I was always the one who received help and said 'thank you.' I never thought I would one day be on the receiving end of the 'thank yous.' It's a wonderful, wonderful feeling,” said Yen-hao, a college student and captain of the fund's volunteer team in Yilan.
Yen-hao had worked in many different jobs — as a worker in a candle factory, a porter for a shipping company, a baker and even a construction worker — since he was in high school to help his family because his father was unable to work after getting hit by a car a few years ago.
Recounting his experience in Nepal, he said: “I didn't do much. I only taught the Nepalese kids how to make a notebook, but they were so excited.”
“I hope this simple skill could help make some change in their lives,” he said.
Chia-chia also grew up in a single-parent family after her parents divorced.
With six sisters and brothers, it was a great burden for Chia-chia's mother to raise the kids alone.
“We were fortunate enough to get help from the TFCF and many other [groups], which ease a little the economic burden on my mom,” Chia-chia said.
“But what really helped was being in a peer group, since I used to feel that I was inferior compared to others because of my family situation,” she said.
She was very excited to serve as a volunteer in Nepal.
“It was quite an experience because not many people could actually get to the Himalayas, and there are even less people who could work as a volunteer there,” Chia-chia said.
Grateful to have the opportunity to help others, Chia-chia said that she had decided to make helping others her “mission in life.”
“We appreciate their participation in the volunteer project, especially when they're not so well off themselves,” TFCF executive director Miguel Wang (王明仁) said. “We hope that all kids living in disadvantaged conditions could look up to these eight volunteers as their role models and never give up.”