Department of Social Welfare Students Circle Taiwan to Raise Awareness for Issues of the Elderly

Published on Nov 13 2014

"What do you think happiness is?" "Happiness is bringing happiness to others!" Chung Cheng University, Department of Social Welfare students Ye Yu Ling and Huang Jing Ya recently spent 19 days fundraising around the island, from Keelung to Hsinchu to ask people what happiness is. This is not only to remind us that even though we are living in a stressful society, we could respond with a smile, and they also took the opportunity to tell the public the plight of the disadvantaged elderly, as well as introducing "Hondao Senior Citizens Welfare Foundation," to raise the awareness of caring for the elderly. What's more, they will also implement what they have seen and heard around the island in community services, and recently plans to lead the children of Chiayi Shanmei tribe to care for the elderly people living alone.

"Elderly donations are often less than one-third of the donations of children, so we decided to take a trip around the island to raise money, to let more people know about and give attention to the disadvantaged elderly people." Majoring in the Department of Social Welfare at Chung Cheng University, Ye Yu Ling and Huang Jing Ya has taken notice of elderly welfare issues. During a classroom lecture, they saw the opportunity and took the initiative to mention to the lecturers of Hondao Senior Citizens Welfare Foundation their plans of traveling around in Taiwan cities and counties, and to find community-based organizations to teach the elderly to do arts and crafts. However, this plan was rejected as a lecturer thought that in addition to being unprofessional due to young age, approaching too many units under limited manpower and time are too complicated. So, Ye Yu Ling and Huang Jing Ya altered their plan to set foot on 19 days of the journey to going around the island, to raise money for the disadvantaged elderly.

"People seemed to be always chased by time at the train station, whereas tourist areas gives people a relaxed atmosphere, so there were more people that are willing to stop and listen to us." When circling the island, they abandoned traditional fundraising methods of setting points in train stations, but rather Ye Yu Ling and Huang Jing Ya selected tourist areas. On the first day, they came to Hsinchu's Streets of Neiwan, and held cloths that had issues of the elderly and Hondao Senior Citizens Welfare Foundation. They thought people would be curious, but no one is willing to have further understanding. So they spent an entire afternoon changing the plan, asking questions and taking the initiative to invite passers-by to write what they think happiness is on the whiteboard, and then introduced Hondao Senior Citizens Welfare Foundation and raised funds. Not only did the public willing to respond to them, but also they got better when they raised funds at Taichung rainbow military community, Shenghsing Street and other attractions.

Talking about the whole trip around the island, most Ye Yu Ling and Huang Jing Ya were impressed by the middle-aged uncle they encountered in Miaoli. Ye Yu Ling described that initially the uncle's tone was very harsh, but gradually he became friendly because of the elderly issues they explained to him. "The uncle told us that it is not that he does not care about the elderly, but he was often cheated, so he tested us with his unfriendly attitude." Finally he expressed concern for the elderly by donating.

Although this time they only raised 1143 yuan going around the island, Ye Yu Ling still optimistically said: "We also raised a stack of receipts which went as high as about two cans of Yakult bottles stacked up that was all donated to Hondao Senior Citizens Welfare Foundation, which might win the 10 million lottery!" The purpose of fundraising around the island is the first step to make more people take notice of the issues concerning the elderly, and Ye Yu Ling continued to think about how to care for the elderly issues after returning back to the campus.

Ye Yuling said that during the trip she saw many photos of the elderly living in rural areas repairing houses when she visited Hondao Senior Citizens Welfare Foundation. Some photos depicted the situations of roofs repaired using the commonly seen blue and white striped canvas at construction sites to repair holes, while others shown that due to road subsidence, the knee had to be lifted to cross the threshold. There were even entrenchments before the doorway that one may fall into. Therefore, as the vice president of a volunteering club in CCU, Ye Yu Ling decided to apply what she saw and heard during the journey in the community service program every weekend to help the children of Shanmei Tribe of Chiayi learn how to care for the elderly living alone in the community, as well as to help those physically challenged elderly to grow vegetables and clean their home environment.