By Elyse Lin, Rotaract Club of Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan
Being a part of the Rotary family for years, I’ve learned to be more aware of social issues in our community. Having taken part in a number of service projects, I started to think about what we could do to make sustainable change in the city.
Homelessness is a complicated issue in Taipei. Most people have a stereotype of the homeless that makes it difficult for them to find a job or break out of the vicious cycle they are in. We decided to take action to meet the basic needs of people living on the street and change people’s perceptions about the homeless.
In “The Stone Soup Project,” we raised money from our families, friends, colleagues, and the community. After buying ingredients using the money we raise, we cook together, make Bento Boxes and share with the homeless. However, the project is not just about giving away these single-portion home packed meals. We sit down, listen to their stories, and seek to understand more about the difficulties they’re facing. It is always rewarding to hear friends telling us they have dismissed their stereotype of the homeless after participating in the project.
It is never easy to tackle social problems. We definitely had to overcome challenges. We talked to organizations that have been working with the homeless for years; we evaluated different locations for the project considering the negative reaction of neighbors; and we talked to homeless individuals to get a full understanding of their situation and real needs.
When it came to promoting our effort, we realized that the essence of taking action is to be part of the action. And it is this that further inspires people in the community to join us. As People of Action, we learn, we grow, and we apply that knowledge in our service to the world.
It all started with one thought of making a difference. The spirit of People of Action lies in our hearts. We see the problem and take real steps to deal with it. It is always hard to make a change by oneself. However, when we gather people together with a common desire to do good, we make the impact of our action even greater.