Fri, Dec 22, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Pastor honored for drug rehab work

EMPATHY:A former drug abuser, Pastor Simon Man-wo Lau helped establish Operation Dawn Taiwan in 1989 to help addicts recover and rebuild their lives

Staff writer, with CNA

Pastor Simon Man-wo Lau, right, receives an award from Deputy Minister of Education Lin Teng-chiao for his work helping people fight drug addiction at an awards ceremony in Taipei on Tuesday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Pastor Simon Man-wo Lau (劉民和) on Tuesday was presented with a Taiwan Contribution Award and a cash prize of NT$30 million (US$1 million) for more than three decades of work helping drug addicts in the nation.

Lau, chief executive of Operation Dawn Taiwan, was selected by a nine-member committee from among 222 individuals and groups as the winner of the first Y.L. Lin Taiwan Contribution Award, the nation’s most valuable “non-academic” award.

The award was set up in September by the Y.L. Lin Hung Tai Education Foundation, a public welfare organization established by Lin Yu-lin (林堉璘), founder of the Taipei-based property developer Hung Tai Group, with the aim of helping the nation cultivate talent and awarding those who have made contributions to the country.

The foundation said that the committee selected Lau, from Hong Kong, to raise social awareness about the problem of drug abuse in Taiwan.

Lau, 66, said he completed his senior high school and college education in Taiwan, but also used drugs while studying here.

Tormented for 10 years by his habit, which he began at the age of 15 in Hong Kong, Lau said he knows well that drugs harm not only the users, but also their families and society.

After overcoming his addiction at Operation Dawn in Hong Kong, Lau returned to Taiwan in 1983 to help others, “saving everyone I saw,” he said.

Lau helped establish Operation Dawn Taiwan in 1989 to help drug addicts recover and rebuild their lives.

Over the past 28 years, the Christian group has opened eight drug rehabilitation centers in six cities and counties around the nation.

“Belief is the power of change,” Lau said.

About 60 percent of the addicts who have stayed at their rehab centers for 18 months have never gone back to drugs after returning to society, he said.

Lau said he would use the NT$30 million to open one more rehab center in Taoyuan, in addition to an existing one, and set up a vocational training center in Tainan for former addicts.

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