To Taiyuan With Love From Evergreen: agricultural equipment donation ceremony

Aug 04.2015 | Charity Care Activities

The Foundation and St. Mary’s Hospital Taitung today (the 4th) held the “To Taiyuan With Love From Evergreen” agricultural machinery donation ceremony and press conference attended by everyone in the tribe. The donation ceremony, held on the Joy Farm at the Taiyuan Tribe in Donghe Township, began with a welcoming dance titled “A Joyous Day” and a blessing ritual by Rev. Ernst Gassner. The Foundation donated three pieces of agricultural machinery to the farm: tractor, rice transplanter, cultivator, to make farm work more efficient and encourage indigenous youths to return and work on the farm at the tribe. The elders at the tribe celebrated the donation and this significant moment with Taiyuan’s traditional dance.

How this beautiful connection began dates back to 2013 when the elders in Taiyuan accounted for up to 40% of its total population and those living alone about 20%. St. Mary’s Hospital Taitung set up a kitchen and health care station at the Catholic Chapel in Taoyuan Tribe to care for the low-income or sick elders and provide them with “Free meals and home service”. In 2014, 14 elders in Taiyuan Tribe offered a total of 7 Jia farmland (1 Jia = 9,699 square meter) for the hospital to grow agricultural produce with no charge, as a gesture to express their gratitude. The Joy Farm was thus set up. This token of gratitude evoked other elders to follow suit and now the total farmland has reached 21 Jia growing rice and vegetables for the elders’ meals. But due to insufficient manpower and lack of agricultural machinery, they often miss the right farming season for the right crops and partial farmland has to go to waste causing a lack of production capacity.

The Foundation was touched by this story of donated farmlands from which organic food and hope were grown over the past 30 years and instantly dispatched an inspector to visit Joy Farm and checked on the elders in the tribe only to realize that the tribe received no external funding or resources. So the Foundation hoped to appeal to the public by entering the tribe and the farm as the first social welfare group and donated the most urgently needed agricultural machinery upon learning of the difficulties faced by Joy Farm. The aim was to increase the farm’s production volume so that people in the tribe can stand on their own feet with sustainable development.

The 86-year-old tribal chief, Li Xin-Mu, said, “The agricultural machinery aside, (we) hope our tribal youths will return and carry on with our heritage. In previous harvest festivals, they would come back but in recent years there are fewer and fewer young people attending the festival. (We are) worried that traditional culture and customs in the tribe are slowly disappearing.” Jian Zhi-Long (Wa-Kan) who returned to the tribe and worked as a social worker at the health care station concurred, “About 35 tribal youths have expressed willingness to return but there is little job opportunity so they cannot have their dream of coming home to be with their family fulfilled.” Indeed, the Foundation did notice that there is little work opportunity and that’s the main reason that keeps young people from returning. So the bigger significance of donating agricultural machinery is to create job opportunities.

The Foundation shall help set up Taitung County Love Me Association to call on more young people to return to the tribe, congeal a sense of solidarity and collective awareness and integration and together to develop tourism and create more job opportunities. The tribal elders can then be well taken care of. The association can later team up with Joy Farm in the planning of half-day bike rides, experiential farming, indigenous gourmet food, and tribal homestay and other activities through which travelers are invited to enjoy the beautiful landscape of Taiyuan thus injecting vitality and planting new hope in the tribe.

The Foundation has a Taitung office which has been for a long timer delivering services like emergency aid to help low-income family out of adversities, offering scholarships and inviting school children for long stays in Taipei, hosting concerts, assisting St. Mary’s Hospital Taitung transporting the mobile MRI vehicle from the US to Taiwan, funding the business reconstruction in Jia-Lan Village, Jin-Feng Township and coordinating distribution of resources on the platform. All of the above are the key results of the Taitung office’s long-standing hard work in Taitung.