A group of 25 student volunteers yesterday left for Swaziland, one of Taiwan’s four diplomatic allies in Africa, where they are set to help out at orphanages for two weeks.
The students are scheduled to help erect buildings, plant vegetables and clear uncultivated land at the orphanages, said Lu Hsing-chung (呂興忠), the chief librarian at Chunghua Senior High School.
Most of the student volunteers are from low-income or single-parent families and have never traveled abroad, Lu said.
In order to qualify for the program, they had to pass an English proficiency test, he added.
The overseas volunteer program, now in its fifth year, offers the students an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons and cannot be used to obtain credits for college applications, Lu said.
One of the students, surnamed Yang (楊), said she hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the poverty situation in the African country.
The group took with them an aid package consisting of 5,000 packets of Master Kong instant noodles, which were donated by Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corp — a food company based in China run by Taiwanese entrepreneurs — 500 flashlights from Chunghua-based Benz Electronic Co and 1,200kg of clothing.
Over the past five years, more than 125 students have participated in the summer charity program, which is sponsored by Acer Inc founder Stan Shih (施振榮), FSP Group chairman Cheng Ya-jen (鄭雅仁) and Sun Chin-chuan, chairman of trading company Ballerina Co, Lu said.
The student volunteers are scheduled to return home on July 18.