By Taipei News Team, Formosa (Originally in Chinese)
Inspired by Supreme Master Ching Hai’s teaching of caring for underprivileged groups in society, on January 20, 2017, our Taipei Center Association members in Formosa co-hosted an early Chinese New Year’s Eve feast for our homeless friends with the help of the New Taipei City Government, and NGOs such as the New Taipei City Volunteer Association and Yuan Heng Temple. The theme of the celebration was “Lighting up the Streets with Love.”
To bring heavenly light and positive energy to the venue and express Buddha’s all-encompassing love for all beings, we decorated the dining area at the center of the venue with nine hollowed and carved white gourd lanterns on the table, which added a touch of childlike innocence and Zen spirit. The event was covered by the Economic Daily News, The Merit Times, Chinatimes.com and other media, as well as the Social Welfare Department and the Department of Information of the New Taipei City Government.
To allow the residents of Linkou Homeless Shelter in New Taipei City, who are mostly ill or disabled, to enjoy the traditional New Year food and festivities, our Association members arranged transportation in the early morning to pick them up from the nursing home, and carefully helped them get in and out of the car so they would arrive at the event safely. Altogether, there were more than 200 homeless people from New Taipei City at the event. Smiling shyly, they lined up for free medical consultations, X-rays and other health examinations arranged by the New Taipei City Volunteer Association. They also received supplies to keep them warm. To help each guest feel refreshed, each was offered a haircut and a shower, as well as new clothes.
Happily sitting around the dining table, our homeless friends enjoyed a vegan feast prepared by our Taipei Center Association members. The cooking team worked to create 24 colorful and delicious vegan dishes of five-star hotel quality using healthy and nutritious seasonal ingredients. The food was arranged in a European buffet style, with 40 of our Association members helping to serve, and to make the guests feel welcome.
During the mealtime, all the guests were also treated to an array of entertainment organized by our Association and the New Taipei City Volunteer Association. Programs included a piano performance, Tai Chi and a fan performance, a Chinese zither solo, a classical poetry recital, a pop song performance, a piano improvisation and Beijing operas. Thus, not only the delicious Chinese New Year’s Eve vegan feast, but also the delightful and joyous performances provided the 200 participating guests with a wonderful time full of taste, visual and sound enjoyment. Most of these homeless friends left their families for a long time, and seldom had a decent meal on ordinary days. Their faces lit up with big smiles, as they felt respected and pampered as part of one big family.
The Mayor of New Taipei City, the Honorable Mr. Chu Li-Luan, visited the venue at noon, giving out red envelopes; each envelope contained TWD 500 offered by Tsai Eng-Meng Charitable Foundation as a friendly gesture. He thanked the organizers for helping the government take care of the underprivileged people, hoping that this great love would be able to continue, to protect the Earth, and to light up Formosa (Taiwan). In his speech, the chairman of our Association expressed our appreciation for this opportunity to be with the homeless people as part of one family. He also emphasized that veganism is the best way of freeing the captive animals, a traditional Buddhist practice, not only benefitting all beings, but also contributing to carbon reduction on Earth.
After the sumptuous vegan feast, the guests left the venue happy, with small gifts of vegan cake prepared by our Association members, the warm coats and other winter supplies prepared by the Volunteer Association, and neck warmers from Venerable Hui Chang of the Yuan Heng Temple. They were deeply touched, and expressed that they never thought vegan food could be this delicious. We deeply appreciate the opportunity to help our homeless brothers and sisters.