Sain Sou Co chief executive Lin Tien-chin (林添進) and his wife, Wu A-chia (吳阿甲), have made charity work a part of their daily life, frequenting nursing homes and orphanages to care for the disadvantaged, as well as donating money to help the poor bury deceased relatives.
In addition, the couple feel that because Taiwan is an island, youngsters should learn how to swim and how to react when a person is drowning. To achieve this, they started the Volunteer Life Guard Association which offers free swimming classes to children.
Lin said that he started Sain Sou Co — specializing in swimwear, beach apparel and watersports equipment — after a chance visit to Shalun Beach near Tamsui (淡水) in what is now New Taipei City (新北市), after he had concluded his military service.
“There were a lot of people at the beach, and I felt that this could offer a chance to run a profitable business,” Lin said.
He started buying swimwear merchandise and sold the products at night markets, as well as traditional markets, and was very successful.
Lin then discovered that there was no local swimwear brand, and started designing and manufacturing his own brand of swimwear. The venture was so successful that Lin’s company started mass-producing swimwear in 1993.
“All of the swimwear produced by my company is 100 percent made in Taiwan,” Lin said with great pride.
In 2004, Lin and Wu became the heads of the Chinese Taipei Water Life Saving Association and the association’s Taipei City Eastern Area branch respectively. At that point the couple realized how many people drowned or died in water-related accidents every year.
At the time, there were numerous reports of people on the coast of New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) being swept away by waves.
The couple approached the Wanli District Office with a proposal to “adopt” the beach by setting up lifeguard stations on the beach and recruiting volunteer lifeguards to patrol the beach.
In the first four years after they adopted the beach, 27 people were saved from drowning. However, there were occasions when they could not help people in distress.
“Once the volunteers and I were doing routine maintenance on the lifeguards’ rubber raft when a boat carrying 11 anglers overturned,” Lin said.
The volunteer lifeguards and police managed to rescue 10 of the people on board, but one person became stuck under the boat and could not be saved.
Lin said he also discovered that many Taiwanese cannot swim and in 2010 started the Nangang Volunteer Life Savers’ Association to offer free swimming classes for children from poor families in Taipei’s Nangang District (南港) and Neihu District (內湖).
Most of the association’s helpers are volunteers, such as swimming coach Cheng Jung-shun (鄭榮順), who lives in Taipei, but works at the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮), Wu said.
Each group of youngsters undergoes 10 days of swimming lessons that start at 4pm, but because Cheng is afraid of being late for class, he usually goes to work in the morning and takes the afternoon off on the days scheduled for classes, Wu said.
He added that Cheng has also used his own money to buy hundreds of swimming-pool tickets for the children.
“It’s very kind of him,” Wu said, adding that Cheng’s concern for the children is very touching.
Wu said that everyone involved in the association does what they can to help. She said that her husband provides the necessary equipment free of charge and the volunteers provide snacks or cover the children’s expenses, while the Cheng Te Junior High School gave the association permission to use its swimming pool.
Hundreds of children from poor families have already benefited from the association’s efforts, Wu said.