Taipei, Taiwanese photographer Yang Wen-yi received an Outstanding Young Persons Award from the New Taipei City government Saturday for his dedication to making graduation albums for children in schools lacking in resources.
The New Taipei-based professional wedding photographer and his team have volunteered to make graduation albums for remote and underfunded schools for the past five years.
The 36-year-old told CNA that he launched the volunteer project to make the students' dream of having a graduation album come true once he became aware of the need.
Three schools were involved in the first year of the project, followed by eight in the second year, and the number has grown to 31 this year, he said.
"Showing kindness is like tossing stones into the lake and triggering a ripple effect," said Yang, who made a point of accepting the award on behalf of his volunteer team.
Yang helps so many schools now that he was still busy shooting graduation album photos for students at Mudan Elementary School, a small school in Pingtung County primarily attended by indigenous Paiwan children, right up to the day before the award ceremony.
Yang and fellow volunteer photographers and stylists plan to spend their time at remote schools in Pingtung, Taitung and Hualien until early April to complete the photo shoots.
They will then return to New Taipei to compile and edit their work and print the albums so that students can get them before their graduation.
Fellow photographer Wang Chien-yu said the way Yang was enthusiastically welcomed by schoolchildren helped him understand why Yang keeps going with the project despite the large amounts of time and money required.
And that devotion is shared by other volunteers, including photographer Chang Hsin-yun who said she was proud to be part of the team.
Another photographer, Lin Hsia-to felt the initiative was worthwhile because it is helping children preserve their happiest memories in print.
Yang said he believed the gods look over these children because they always seem to have good weather for the photo shoots, one of the biggest keys to taking good pictures.
Commenting on his volunteer experience, Yang said he quickly realized that Taiwan is a place full of love and that he was not alone on his journey.
All the encouragement and support he has received and the smiles of the schoolchildren have washed away any weariness he may have felt, he said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel