A number of young Taiwanese are trying to emulate the spirit of German philanthropist and medical missionary Albert Schweitzer by helping disadvantaged people in rural communities, as well as assisting orphans and the elderly.
Among these youths is Lai Yi-ting (賴儀婷), a volunteer at the Taipei Animal Shelter, who helps care for stray dogs and records the shelter’s day-to-day activities.
“I have seen stray dogs being caught and taken to the shelter here. Thanks to the patient instruction of volunteers, a timid puppy learns how to walk around and then return to its cage, where it waits for the loving care of a future owner,” Lai said.
Fang Yi-yu (方一宇) said he often visits nursing homes and chats with the elderly.
“It is a chance to record and experience a different way of life,” he said.
Under the “Youth Service Taiwan” program organized by the China Youth Corps (CYC, 中國青年救國團), Lai, Fang and their peers have received grants for their public service work.
The program, which is aimed at emulating the lifetime work of Schweitzer, gives financial aid to young people to foster the spirit of philanthropy by encouraging them to help those in need.
Lee Wei-ting (李威廷) and Yang Yi-sheng (楊翊昇), along with more than 100 fellow students from the China Medical University in Greater Taichung, are active in the school’s community service team.
Over the past two years, they have been implementing the “Great Read Forward” (大閱進) program in Aboriginal villages.
Under the initiative, students lead reading exercises and games sessions to promote education among Bunun children in Dili Elementary School in Nantou County’s Sinyi Township (信義).
Meanwhile, students from National Chengchi University’s Department of Education visit remote rural areas during their winter holidays to assist disadvantaged youths.
Lin Chuan-yang (林傳陽) and Chen Chia-chen (陳家蓁) say that although the project has received funding from the China Youth Corps, many students pitch in their own pocket money to help the children.”
“We wish to encourage these underprivileged children to find their way past communication difficulties,” they said, adding that “we want to steer them in the right direction and encourage them not to give up on themselves.”
Huang Yu-ming (黃郁茗) and eight friends from National Chung Hsing University in Greater Taichung have organized a cycling club, which visits orphanages and youth centers while touring the nation.
“We have helped to inspire these kids to pursue their dreams,” the students said.