Volunteer in Eden | Reflecting on How Rewarding a Volunteering Experience Can Be – Mr. Wu

Translation | Yu-Fei Huang   Resource | http://edenswfmp.pixnet.net/blog/post/225592646 伊甸園月刊

 

Mr. Wu, Zhen-Hua (吳振華) is an exchange student at National Taiwan Normal University. Even though Wu’s stay in Taiwan is not long and he has limited volunteering experience, this volunteering experience with the Eden Social Welfare Foundation has been eye-opening to him. Wu has gained valuable memories, friendships, as well as a deeper understanding of the operation of social welfare systems.

 

Article | Guo I-Xuan     Photo |  Li Hua Su  

 

 

Mr. Zhen-Hua Wu (吳振華) comes from Changsha City of Hunan province and he is currently an exchange student at the National Taiwan Normal University.

Although Wu has volunteered in communities in Changsha and Hong Kong, as well as in remote areas, the experience of doing volunteer work with the Eden Social Welfare Foundation has been eye-opening to him.

 

Why Eden?

 

“I am in awe of the founding history of the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and how it developed into an enormous organization. I really admire the founder, Ms. Xia Liu (劉俠), because when you want to help someone, it is not hard to do so. But to help so many people at once like Ms. Liu did, it is very difficult,” said Wu.  

 

The professionalism of the Eden Social Welfare Foundation, its cross-generational services, and the effectiveness of allocating resources in such a broad organization are new things about a social welfare institution that Wu did not know before.

 

In addition, Wu was amazed to learn that the Eden Social Welfare Foundation considers the need of its volunteers and those receiving its help. Such accommodation can be seen through the description of the organization, the team-bonding process, the team cohesiveness through learning about wheelchairs manoeuvring and assisting with meal feeding. The needs of volunteers from all over the world and the needs of residents at the E Soul Rehabilitation Centre are taken into account at every stage of the Foundation’s operation.

 

"Actually, a staff called Nina gave us lots of professional help. Before we head out to volunteering, we were able to experience riding wheelchairs and take classes about feeding assistance,” said Wu.

 

Serving for Persons with Disabilities

 

More than learning about the structure of a wheelchair, Wu, along with other volunteers, experienced riding wheelchairs outdoors in pairs. During the manoeuvring process, he learned about many details that would not be noticed by the able-bodied people, such as how one needs to turn backwards first in order to go downhill.

 

The Eden Social Welfare Foundation not only organize volunteering experience that involves assisting those in need, it also organizes playful events that involve the elderly. Socializing with volunteers from all over the world helps the elderly focus on something other than the pain of ageing and sickness.

 

“When we first got to the Foundation, I thought the residents (of the E Soul Rehabilitation Centre) would have lower self-esteem or they would resist socializing with others. But they quickly integrate into our group and they want to socialize with us,” said Wu.

 

 

From the networking part of the volunteering experience, Wu learned there were volunteers from Hunan, Shanxi, Shanghai, Macao, the US, and France. These volunteers all made slides that detailed interesting aspects of their homes to show residents of the E Soul Rehabilitation Centre.

 

Wu recalled that every volunteer puts in lots of effort in presenting. “One of the volunteers, who is from France, has limited Chinese speaking skills but she still presented with a cue card full of notes. My roommate, Li Shi Ben (李士本), even made his own video for the presentation,” said Wu.

 

On the day of the presentation, Wu recalled that it was a very enjoyable time as all the presentation was interesting. One of the volunteers from Shanghai had to miss the presentation day so Wu presented on his behalf by quickly skimming through the slides and presented as if Wu took the E Soul residents with him to Shanghai.

 

A staff from the International Development Department called Nina added, “Zhen-Hua (Wu) has really great improvisational skills. All the presentations were so great that the residents of the Rehabilitation Centre had lifted spirits as they turned to enjoy their meals after presentations ended.”

 

As all the volunteers genuinely care for the residents of the E Soul Rehabilitation Centre, their hard work could be felt through the smiling faces of the residents. Residents also appreciated the great effort that the Eden Social Welfare Foundation has put into organizing this volunteering event.

 

During Wu’s volunteering process, one particular resident with the pseudonym of A Liang stood out to him as A Liang responded with a friendly gesture during their first interaction. Wu recalled how A Liang even wanted to travel to his hometown, Hunan, if there is an election. The next time Wu visited the Rehabilitation Centre again, A Liang was resting in bed. Wu wondered about A Liang’s absence and thought the latter was being shy so Wu went directly to visit his room. When A Liang saw Wu, his eyes were filled with enjoyment. After many visits, the two bonded and Wu was so thankful for their friendship.

 

 

Wu took out a postcard that he prepared in advance during his visit to A Liang. By describing the picture on the postcard, Wu was trying to make A Liang remember his name. “(A Liang) was like a child as he was very innocent. A Liang is a Christian and he even called me his brother,” recalled Wu when he was recounting his friendship with A Liang. Even though Wu is an atheist, he gladly accepts the fact that A Liang calls him a brother since he considers it a friendly gesture, as well as a signifier that Wu is important to A Liang.

 

Volunteer Reflection

 

On the topic of feeding assistance, Wu said such experience helped him to relate to people who have to have liquidized food on a regular basis, who lose the ability to enjoy food as every sip would taste the same. Food is a way for the able-bodied people to relieve stress. But such privilege is no longer an option for those who cannot eat solid food.

 

For people require feeding assistance, eating becomes a mechanical work. “Those I helped almost fell asleep during my assistance and this experience made me reflect on my personal life,” said Wu. The experience gained from this volunteering experience not only nourished Wu’s heart, it also helped him to have a different perspective on life.

 

“If one does not reflect on their lives, they would not be inspired,” said Wu. The inspiration for Wu is that: those trivial activities in his daily life become something that the aged and the diseased dream of doing.

 

 

About Future

 

As Wu plans to further his education with a master degree, he also wants to keep volunteering. Through volunteering, Wu can continue care for the marginalized, as well as becoming exposed to new ways to help those in need. In addition, Wu can continue to pursue self-fulfillment. Every volunteering experience will become an inspiration for Wu to reflect on his life, helping him to learn precious life lessons.

 

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Join Eden's Volunteers!
 

 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

 

Eden has started International Volunteer Program and invited youths from all over the world to hold summer camps for local communities in Taiwan since 2009. Until now, Eden welcomes volunteers all over the world to devote themselves to those in need. Have you ever think of trying to have the human interactions on the tiny island on the west Pacific? Eden offers opportunities for interns and volunteers. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and come!

 

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