Hsiao-fang said she is happiest when she goes with the older students to take pictures of the local communities and old military bunkers.
On one trip, a sixth-grader nicknamed Laoyu (老瑜) put her camera inside a gun barrel on an old military bunker. She was asked why she was taking a picture there.
“Since I was little, I always wondered what was inside the gun barrel of a cannon. Now I know, it is dark and rusty,” she said.
On the other side of the bunker, Hsiao-fang excitedly, but nervously tugged the hand of a volunteer teacher, asking him: “Can I take you to see a mysterious place?”
They went inside the abandoned bunker, where the emblem of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is still inscribed on one of the walls.
Yang has enlisted a number of volunteer teachers for the project who all have a passion for photography. They work with the schoolchildren, give them instructions, find out about their lives and families, and after taking pictures, discuss the images with them.
One of the volunteers is Hsu Po-kai (許博凱), a graduate of National Chung Shan University who had just finished his compulsory military service.
Hsu said “Send a Picture Postcard to the World” is a worthy education project, as it gives an opportunity to children on offshore islands.
“This is very meaningful for the schoolchildren to reach out to the world. It is a way for them to travel without leaving the island,” Hu said.
“This project does not come with a fixed framework, it give the kids lots of freedom and this helps to cultivate their creativity,” said retired teacher Yang Chung-huang (楊仲璜), another volunteer.
Another volunteer, poet Yang Shu-hsuan (楊書軒), takes the picture postcards produced by the students and adds short poems and portraits. As some of the cameras are donated, the children send the postcards to the donors to thank them for their generosity.
Photography exhibitions and charity auctions are being planned to help raise donations. Half of the proceeds will be used to purchase more cameras, while the other half will provide funding to support the project so the outside world can get a glimpse of the lives of these oft-forgotten children.