Despite considerable difficulties, the girls who were honored yesterday at an award ceremony held by the Garden of Hope Foundation in Taipei courageously overcame these challenges to pursue their dreams.
It may be hard to imagine that 16-year-old high school student Lin Si-hua (林思華), who won the Formosa Daughter’s Award for courage and adventure, had been a timid and self-isolated person.
With dreams of becoming a singer and an actress, Lin seeks out all opportunities to go on stage and she has participated in various singing contests and appeared in several TV commercials.
“For many years, I was a very timid and self-isolated person, I would not talk to anyone at school besides the teacher and all of my classmates thought I was a weirdo and would not talk to me either,” Lin said. “I was like that because I felt it was my fault that my father died, and could not stop feeling guilty.”
Lin’s father had long suffered from depression and had attempted to commit suicide several times.
“On the day my dad died, I was home with him, and I had promised my mom I would look after him when she went out with my brother,” Lin said.
“After they left, I turned around to use the computer, then I heard a big bang from outside, I rushed to the window, and the next thing I saw was my dad lying dead on the ground, surrounded by blood,” she said.
From then on she lived in guilt for many years, until one day she saw people singing on the TV, which reminded her of her hobby.
“When I saw those people singing on the TV, they were all so happy,” Lin said.
“I like singing too, and I told myself that I want to be happy like them,” she said.
As soon as Lin started singing and taking part in talent shows in school, she found that her classmates started to like her more, convincing her that performing was a way to make herself and others happy.
Lin’s dream is that her accomplishments in show business will surpass those of her favorite pop singer, Rainie Yang (楊丞琳).
Lin’s mother, who attended the award ceremony, said she is fully supportive of her daughter.
“I know this is what she is interested in, so of course I’m supportive of it,” she said. “I was especially touched when she made a plan to sing to 100 strangers, and ask each one of them to write down a few lines to encourage her.”
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Mongolian Tserenbaljir Mandakh was voted by a panel of judges to receive the first Asian Girl Rights Award for her efforts to overcome discrimination and social pressure because she gave birth to a child out of wedlock and founded an organization to help mothers in similar situations.
“When I became pregnant at the age of 16, because giving birth to a child out of wedlock is something unacceptable in Mongolian society, I knew my dad would not accept it, so I told my mom first. But my mom would not accept it, and told me to get an abortion,” Mandakh said.
Mandakh ran away from home to live with her boyfriend. However, her boyfriend often beat her and she eventually moved out to seek asylum from a charity group and safely gave birth to a child.
Grateful for the help she received, Mandakh decided that she would help other young mothers in similar situations and created a Young Mothers’ Club, which currently has 60 members.
“We do not just give them help, but also try to provide education and empowerment programs for them so that they can know what their rights are and how they may live by themselves if no one in their families accepts them,” Mandakh said.