Although Taiwan is viewed by many as a hub of global prosperity--the island is home to global powers ASUS, Acer and Eva Air, among others--there are pockets of poverty, suffering and disadvantage waiting for the touch of compassion a Christian hand can bring.
Jane Lin happens to possess just those hands.
Lin is executive officer of the Taiwan Adventist Foundation, a registered charity operating on the island and reaching its most-underserved peoples, including indigenous farmers who are often exploited by larger agricultural firms buying their produce; students in elementary schools of fewer than 28 pupils, and Taiwan’s poor, whose homes are sometimes in great disrepair.
“Our vision is to motivate and empower people in Taiwan society to life a healthier life,” Lin said, reciting the group’s credo. This is done through sponsoring projects aimed at helping those in need.
“God has blessed us very much,” Lin said, recalling her first year at the foundation.
For the farmers, it means helping them reach consumers directly at outdoor markets, and encouraging them to grow organic produce. This “creates another market” for the farmers, who she says are often “exploited” when selling to the larger corporations, she said.
“If the farmers get better pay” for their crops, she said, “it means a better standard of living.” She said the group is also helping the farmers to post pictures of their crops on Pinterest, the Internet-based social network, to help create demand for those goods.
Although Taiwan’s educational system is highly regarded, some students there--as in other parts of the world, including the United States--have fewer resources than their counterparts in larger schools. To help these students, Taiwan Adventist Foundation supplies a “Happy Craft Kit” of various pieces of colored wool. These are then made into small coasters, giving the students a different kind of craft, and a sense of having made something with their own hands.
“If the children like to use their hands to make something,” Lin explained, “they will use their hands to take care of others later in life.”
And for those in poor living conditions, the Taiwan Adventist Foundation uses volunteer labor to help clean, repair and even rebuild dwellings where needed.
“No one helps them, and no one cares,” Lin said of these poor people. Other charities are beginning to call on the Taiwan Adventist Foundation, asking them to help families in need.
Sometimes, Lin said, all that’s necessary is a simple housecleaning and instruction in running a household, something that may have been neglected. “The target is to help peoples’ homes have basic functions, safe and clean,” she said.
Much of the funding for the Taiwan Adventist Foundation comes from the Northern Asia-Pacific Division. The group’s board is chaired by Stanley Wai Chun Ng, assistant to the Northern Asia-Pacific Division president for China affairs. But the group accepts outside funds and hopes to become self-sufficient, Lin said, noting they hope to have a facility to accept credit card donations soon. More information on the group can be found online at www.twaf.org.tw.