Major Lai Mei-yin (賴美吟), a female air force chief based in Tainan who has sponsored disadvantaged children and volunteered for service with the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF) for more than 20 years, is encouraging others to donate time and money to charity.
The 40-year-old, who now serves as a supply squadron deputy chief at Tainan Air Force base, has also encouraged her family to contribute, while seeking to inspire coworkers to follow her charitable lead.
Lai started her civic-minded service when she hosted a student camp for the TFCF in Kaohsiung in 1989, despite working during the day to support herself while she attended classes at night school.
CIVIC - MINDED
After graduating, she began taking part in the foundation’s sponsorship program, donating NT$1,000 (US$33) per month to support children in need.
Lai has sponsored five children over the years, the first of whom, A-hong (阿宏), she began supporting 20 years ago.
She has kept in close contact with A-hong who considers Lai to be his “second mother.” A-hong has shared all of his important life moments with Lai and in January this year, he invited her to sit next to his biological mother at his engagement party.
Now a technician at CPC Corp, Taiwan, A-hong has also become a TFCF volunteer himself and often helps with clean up work for under-privileged families alongside Lai.
“My husband is the volunteer’s volunteer,” she said, describing how her charity work has impacted her family life, adding that she was lucky to have married a man who understands her and has supported her through thick and thin.
Sometimes she, her husband, her parents-in- law and the rest of the family help organize meetings between children and their TFCF sponsors, she added.
In this way they get a better idea of how the charity works and “why I have always been busy,” she said.
Lai has had a profound influence on her son who is currently a third grade elementary school student and who decided last year to donate the NT$5,000 scholarship he received to the foundation.
“My husband and I were surprised, but touched,” Lai said.
In addition, Lai also helps encourage her colleagues to carry out volunteer work in their free time and she has reinforced her role-model status at her workplace by wining one of the country’s 10 Outstanding Young Persons Award.
“One day, a young coworker came up to me to shake my hand and tell me how my spirit has inspired him,” she said.
Lai said she would continue to devote herself to charity for the next 20 years.
“No matter how tiring it is, it is all worth it when I see the smiles on children’s faces,” she said.