I’ve just come back from a four week trip from Asia that brought me from China to Hong Kong to
Taiwan. One stop in Taiwan, however, was different. Driving into the countryside, 30 minutes from
Kaohsiung, Taiwan, into the local non-profit, Operation Dawn facility, I had the pleasure of talking
with those who have struggled through a different kind of journey.
Going there, I did not know what to expect; all I knew was that I had volunteered to talk to a class of new students of the Operation Dawn drug rehabilitation program, an international program for which I had helped fundraise in the United States. Luckily for me, the setup was relaxed. There was an open courtyard in the middle where the program participants, the students, socialized. There was a refreshing, gentle breeze flowing through the open halls of the building.
Fast forward 20 minutes, and I am talking to the class. I start shaky; the pressure from nearly 30
people’s eyes were overwhelming. But I go with my flow and talk about how Operation Dawn has
shaped my life, from my experience as a little boy volunteering at their branch in San Jose,
California, to my motivation to come to Taiwan to meet all of them who were working hard.
My speech only lasts 5 minutes, and I was feeling that I did horrible.
But when I finished, the entire room filled with powerful applause from the audience, and I felt
extremely loved. Their joy from just seeing me gave me more appreciation for the little things I had brought to offer.
We continue by handing out special editions of “abandonedpings” shirts to the participants, and we talked and took a few pictures together.
I noticed that some really liked the shirt, while others were more indifferent. However, all of them came up to me after and shook my hands, saying a few words of Mandarin to me. It is from this that I got all that I wanted from this visit: a strong sense of community with those whom I wanted to help, whom I had never met before.
- "I donated these lip shirts from abandonedping to the people at Operation Dawn. What these lips mean to me is the following; "paynomind." I told the men," pay no mind to people's doubts about your abilities, Continue to believe in yourself and strive toward your goals."
I leave after touring the campus, where in the back they keep goats, ducks, turtles, and other
animals. Not one is for eating; instead, the animals are there for viewing enjoyment.
Operation Dawn's message of joy, community, and self-empowerment truly inspired me to make this visit to them; I am definitely looking forward to going back.
P.S. More pictures below!