Some young Taiwanese spent their summer months this year in Southeast Asia helping people with disabilities — including those left injured by land mines — to seek a better life quality.
Funded by a budget of NT$800,000 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Eden Social Welfare Foundation sent three volunteers to Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia in partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGO) there.
Chiu Pin-ching (邱品親) is one of two volunteers who helped survivors of land mines.
The 23-year-old worked with Jesuit Refugee Services Cambodia in Siem Reap between June and September. She joined the group to distribute donated rice and wheelchairs.
As part of an anti-land mine campaign, Chiu and other group members wore T-shirts with anti-land mine slogans to raise awareness as they rode bicycles through Cambodia’s top tourist attraction, Angkor Wat. Their goal was to underscore the importance of banning land mines, which have continued to cause casualties in Cambodia and other nations years after their intended use.
“I was told that there are about 100 casualties as a result of land mines in Cambodia every year,” Chiu said.
Group members and volunteers also rolled up their sleeves to build restrooms for disabled people living in remote areas, Chiu said.
Most of the members in the group have been injured by land mines themselves, she said.
Sometimes it took them as many as three days to get to a remote village to deliver rice and wheelchairs, due to unpaved roads with poor conditions, but they had no complaints, Chiu said.
Instead she was impressed by “the positive attitudes of the people who had been wounded by land mines,” and their strength to move on with their lives despite the hardships they face.
Joyce Lee (李庭萱) spent three months in Vietnam, an experience she said made her decide to pursue a career in public health.
From May to August, the 24-year-old joined the Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (AEPD), which is based in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Binh.
There, she worked with other association members to help civilians injured by land mines as well as people with other disabilities.
They visited people maimed by land mines to help them come up with proposals for subsidies from NGOs and international organizations.
“They were applying for subsides that they could use to raise pigs or chickens,” she said, adding that the idea was to help them find a sustainable way to make a living, rather than “just donating some money.”
Land mines still pose a serious threat to local people’s safety, Lee said, adding that some of her charity partners were land mine survivors themselves.
Their own painful experiences have helped them gain a better understanding of the needs of survivors, including teaching local residents how to take proper care of an amputated limb, Lee said.
“The experience there made me realize the importance of education,” she said.
Lee also played a part in mapping out proposals on behalf of AEPD to raise funds from other nations, such as the US.
Now back in Taiwan, Lee works at a Taipei-based organization aimed at promoting public health education.
Although Taiwan managed to clear most of the land mines planted along the coasts of Matsu and Kinmen islands in the 1950s and 1960s when tensions with China were high, people in many parts of Southeast Asia still face the threat of land mines sowed decades ago during times of war, the foundation said.
The volunteer program was aimed at deepening exchanges between the private sectors of Taiwan and Southeast Asian nations in a joint effort to create an environment free of land mines, it added.
“Although Southeast Asian countries are geographically close to Taiwan, Taiwanese have little understanding of these countries,” Chiu said, whose first interaction with Cambodia came in January of this year.
She visited the nation to teach children in Phnom Penh Chinese, and was shocked to see survivors left wounded by land mines busking on the street.
“I found the people there need a lot of help,” she said, adding that the experience was what inspired her to play a more active role in helping the wounded.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
NEW CASE REPORTED: A man who returned from South Africa on a flight with the nation’s 460th and 461st cases has now tested positive for the disease The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that there is no need to test all arrivals to the nation for COVID-19, a policy the Executive Yuan supports. The center reported one new imported case, bringing the nation’s tally of confirmed cases to 477. The new case is a Taiwanese man in his 60s who on July 25 returned from South Africa, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the CECC’s spokesman. The man had returned to Taiwan on the same flight as cases Nos. 460 and 461, reported on July 27, Chuang said. On July 24,
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan