Taipei-- Sixty-seven-year-old Huang Chu-yu (???), a vagrant who accepted a free lunch at an annual charity event a year ago, attended the event again on Sunday, not as a guest this time but a volunteer helping with the year-end feast held in the plaza outside the Presidential Office.
Huang was among 6,000 volunteers assisting in serving some 40,000 socially disadvantaged people in 16 charity weiya feasts around the country that day.
"It's more blessed to give than to receive," said Huang when asked about the new role. He encouraged the homeless to be optimistic and enterprising.
Huang said people must admit their misfortune to be able to move on and improve their lives.
Huang, who lost his job three years ago, became homeless after that. In the daytime, he would merely try to get part-time work at construction sites, earning as little as NT$1,000 (US$30) a day, while at night, a bench or a plot of ground in a park was his bed, Huang recalled.
Often he sat on the ground in his "home" at the park in Taipei's Wanhua District, "feeling lost in life," Huang said.
The roughness in Huang's life came to its peak in January last year when a powerful cold front struck Taiwan, and he found after returning to his park home after a day of work that all his belongings packed in a plastic bag had been cleared away as garbage.
That night, Huang recalled, he wrapped himself in just a thin blanket, hiding in a corner and forcing himself to sleep. That was when volunteers from the Jen'an Homeless Social Welfare Foundation spotted him and gave him a sleeping bag to keep him warm, he said.
The foundation further settled him at its dormitory, Huang went on, then with Jen'an volunteers' assistance, he began a small business selling brown sugar cakes.
The business eventually helped Huang earn enough money for him to rent a small residence unit for himself, his ex-wife and daughter. "I continue to sleep on the ground while letting my wife and daughter sleep on the bed," he said with a smile on his face.
"Nothing is more blessed than having a home to sleep in," Huang concluded.
The annual charity weiya, an annual fixture since 1996, is organized by the Genesis Social Welfare Foundation and its two sister groups, the Jen'an and Huashan foundations, to treat low-income families, homeless people, elderly people living alone and single mothers and their children to a meal ahead of Chinese New Year's Day, which falls on Jan. 28 this year.
The weiya is a year-end event usually organized by companies for their employees, to express their thanks for their workers' contributions.
Former President Ma Ying-jeou (???) attended the Taipei charity weiya to serve to show his concern for the underprivileged.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel