National Taiwan University of Science and Technology’s community service association has been touring the nation’s remote villages and townships to repair residents’ electronic appliances.
The 38-year-old association has been involved in several charity projects during school vacations and holidays, including running summer camps, giving academic guidance and organizing an appliance maintenance and repair team, association president Tsai Cheng-yen (蔡承諺) said.
The team has between 40 and 50 members, primarily students from the computer and mechanical engineering departments, Tsai said.
Younger members tend to rely on their more experienced teammates to provide guidance when book-learning proves inadequate for the task at hand, which is a frequent occurrence, Tsai said.
The team repairs about 100 appliances per trip — ranging from fans and hair dryers to rice cookers, he said.
The team this year visited a Payuan community in Pingtung County’s Manjhou Township (滿州) and was able to repair about 20 to 24 of the 40 appliances residents gave them.
They had trouble repairing tablets and other information technology devices on site, Tsai said.
Team members Chiang Min-hsuan (江旻軒) and Chen Po-wen (陳柏文) said they signed up for the team because they had found repairing appliances difficult and liked a good challenge.
Coed Tsai Yi-hsuan said she thinks fixing appliances is “fun and cool,” and she had convinced residents of the many communities she worked in that a woman can repair anything a man can.
Sometimes, the team performs services that beyond repairing mechanical systems, Tsai Cheng-yen said, citing the example of an elderly man and his washing machine.
The machine was not broken, the old man just did not know how to operate it, so the team members wrote a user’s manual for him, Tsai Cheng-yen said.
There have also been times when people asked that appliances be fixed because of their sentimental value, he said, citing the example of a 17-year-old washing machine the owner could not bear to discard because it reminded him of his daughter, who died the 921 Earthquake.
The owner of that machine was present when Tsai Cheng-yen told the story, and, tearing up, said he was grateful to all those who tried to help him.