A Reiki Transformation

  1. The Wufong Project

    by
    By Malinda Schultz (Founder and Organizer)

     

    It all started in 2010 in a small township in Hualien County. After watching the documentary “Born Into Brothels,” I was inspired to give children cameras. They would have the opportunity to document their lives and help them understand the beauty in front of them in their own communities. But where to start? A friend of mine was volunteering at a Learning Center for underprivileged children in Fongtian Township, Hualien County. I mentioned to him about my idea and he introduced me to the founder of the The Five Way House Learning Center. She was thrilled to do the project. And so it began.

    “to raise money for their education.”

    The main objection was to raise money and awareness for the Five Way House Learning Center while at the same time educating the children through means of creativity and art. The children took photos of their everyday lives and a good friend of mine framed them to sell. They where hand made bamboo frames made by Tim Ho, a native to Hualien. He dedicated his time and money to help the children have a better education. With his efforts and creativity combined with my teachings we created a wonderful dipiction of the children’s lives framed in beautiful bamboo. At the end of the project we had a great final event where we gathered with musicians, fire dancers, volunteers, the children and their art works to raise money for their education. Although it was a small event, it was a great success and everyone involved wanted to do it again.

    “Their voices gave me chills up my spine and their dedication to their heritage was apparent and amazing.”

    Here we are, a year later doing a similar project in Chingchuan Village (Wufong) in the mountains of Hsinchu County. When I first came to Chingchuan (Wufong), it was during an annual expat festival called “Peace Fest.” I fell in love with the village and the people. What captured my soul was the singing of the Chingshuan Children’s Choir. Their voices gave me chills up my spine and their dedication to their heritage was apparent and amazing. The color of their traditional clothing and their dances put my soul at ease so I wanted to learn more.

    “Poverty combined with an isolated location leaves the children with little opportunity to succeed.”

    I learned that Chingchuan Village is inhabited by a small population of the Atayal Tribe, some of the oldest indiginous peoples of Taiwan. They have been through decades of repression from various political sects and forced into poverty. Poverty combined with an isolated location leaves the children with little oppotunity to succeed. They have minimal education and when it is time for high school many of them have trouble getting there, for it is a 45 minute drive down the mountain to Jhundong. Parents are absent with jobs in another city leaving the children with their grandparents. Most grandparents are too old and can’t take proper care of the children which in many cases leads to drugs and alcohol use. Many of the children grow up to find themselves working in the lowest paying jobs such as contruction, farming or forestry. I also learned that the Children’s Choir I saw last year, was no longer singing together because they all had to go down the mountain to attend high school or get a job to help support their families. This was sad to me because it seems that they will never be able to keep their heritage alive with so many cracks in the foundation.

    My first thought was to help them raise money for their school, so this could provide local opportinites for the children in their village and help keep their traditional singing and dancing alive. But, as it seems, fate had already planned for something else.

    “What am I doing here?”

     

    I met up with a man named Father Barry. He is a Jesuit Priest from San Diego, California, who has lived there for over 35 years. Father Barry has been a great leader in their community helping most of the children stay clear of drugs, alcohol and bad behaviors. He supplies the children with safe and secure environment while helping them keep their indiginous culture alive. I came to him with my plan to raise money and awareness for the Chingchuan school while at the same time educating the children through means of creativity and art . He kindly said to me “You can teach them photography and art but we don’t need your help.” My jaw dropped and my dream to help was crushed. As I was thinking inside my head “What am I doing here?” Father Barry says softly, “You know, there is something we have been trying to get off the ground for about 4 years. Maybe you can help us with that? We want to rennovate an old building into the village Community Center. This center will provide a place for the Atayal Tribe to gather, learn arts and sell their crafts. A place to call their own without any political or religous ties.” “That’s more like it!” I thought. We then agreed that The Wufong Project was going to raise money and awareness for the Chingchuan Community Center.
    “It was a great success and most importantly the children had fun.”

    I put out a post on Facebook to anybody that was intersted in helping this cause. An amazing amount of people were interested and then I had a team of foreigners to support the project. With the help of Facebook and a man named Sean Kaiteri I learned that all types of people wanted to help. Sean helped me gather famous photographers, artists, writers, documentary specialists and many more. With such a great team behind me I split the project into three workshops. The first workshop was the most important. The Photo Workshop. I delegated the teaching of this workshop to a man who studies architecture and photogtaphy, Jeff Evans, a native to Montana, USA. Jeff taught 28 Atayal children basic photography skills while the other 15 volunteers reinforced the art in smaller groups. It was a great success and most importantly the children had fun. The children were given a single use camera and two weeks to complete the 27 exposures. They were instructed to take photos of their lives, village and beauty around them.
    At the end of each workhop the children would always ask us “When are you coming back?”

    The second workshop was The Art Workshop. There was also a great number of children and volunteers. I delegated The Art Workshop to three amazing professional Artists. Kelly Harding, from South Africa, taught the children Abstract Art. Felicia Rodrigues, from Canada, taught the children Still Life Sketching. Roma Mehta, from India, gathered the children for Group Atayal Tribal Art on four large canvas’s. The children loved The Art Workshop so much that they stayed all afternoon to paint. The third and final workshop was the Photobook Workshop. The children recieved their photos in 4×6 form and put them into a hand made photobook for people to see and for them to keep. This is a great way for the children to remember the project and most importantly the way they view their lives in the village.

    After the workshops were completed and the children were full of art and creativity, we were able to select the best photos and art works to be framed and auctioned off at the Pavilion of Aroma of Flowers (Aboriginal Cultural and Creative Arts Venue) in Taipei. All proceeds will go to the building of the Chingchuan Community Center. There will be a two week exhibition of the children’s art works, project timeline and Chingchuan Village History from November 5th, 2011 to November 19th, 2011. At the end of the exhibition is when the Final Event will take place. This event is on Saturday, November 19th, 2011 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. During this time there will be live performances by the current Chingchuan Children’s Choir, Chingchuan Break Dancing Team, Live viewing of a short documentary on the project, by Verity Mackintosh and Tobie Openshaw, raffling off prizes, a Silent Auction and a Live Auction. All proceeds will go towards the building of the Community Center. Please join us as we make a positive difference in this world, one child at a time. For further information please check out the official website. www.thewufongproject.wordpress.com

     

    Exhibition Dates

    Pavilion of Aroma of Flowers (Aboriginal Cultural and Creative Arts Venue) in Taipei www.taiwanpaf.org
    When: Saturday, November 5th, 2011 – Saturday, November 19th, 2011
    Time: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

    Final Event

    Pavilion of Aroma of Flowers (Aboriginal Cultural and Creative Arts Venue) in Taipei www.taiwanpaf.org
    When: Saturday, November 19th, 2011
    Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

    Publicity

    China Post

    Taipei Times

    TITV News (Taiwan Indigenous Television)

  2. Ghost Money

    by
    David Poulter

    There is a saying that people are the same the world over, cultural distinctions, racial identities and language differences seem to evaporate when certain topics arise, and from my experience this seems to be certainly true when considering the following. When I first arrived in Taiwan, I was amazed to see people burning large amounts of yellow paper, on particular days a haze of smoke hung in the air, ornamental incinerators glowed with hot ash, and the smell of combusted paper was
    everywhere. Later I was informed that people were burning ‘ghost money’. The general idea was
    that on certain religious days marked on the Chinese calendar this paper was traditionally burnt as
    an offering to appease various gods and ancestors, and help bring good luck to the family or business.


    “various noxious gases and
    copious amounts of soot had spread throughout the local vicinity,”

     

    Later I considered the idea on my balcony as I brought in what I thought was my ‘clean
    washing’. Unfortunately my washing day had coincided with some festival day, therefore huge
    amounts of ghost money had been offered to the spirit world. In reality though, in the
    three-dimensional space that I inhabited with others, the result could be judged as being slightly
    different. Due to the incineration of wads of coarse yellow paper, various noxious gases and
    copious amounts of soot had spread throughout the local vicinity, a grey colored miasma choked
    the air and my ‘beautiful clean laundry’ was ruined. I cursed the occasion, I hoped the damn gods
    were satisfied. Some time afterwards when I had calmed down I tried to view the whole thing
    philosophically, I reasoned that I was living in a different culture, one that genuinely did promote
    tolerance in most matters, it was just my narrow Western mind that couldn’t cope with this peculiar rite. So keeping this in mind I promised to endeavor to be more understanding and open-minded, and to embrace this new land and its strange beliefs. I also contemplated myself.

    “The word that springs to mind now is ‘lip service’,”

    Lets face it I thought I’m not religious, the amount of times I had attended a church could be
    counted on one hand. I remember as a child going to a local service, just out of curiosity and
    perhaps boredom. The beatific smiles on some members of the congregation actually made me
    worry, but what really stayed in my mind was the robotic manner in which most of the church go-ers followed the ceremony. The word that springs to mind now is ‘lip service’, an phrase used to describe
    an expression of agreement that is not supported by any real conviction. Growing up in my
    hometown I came to recognize the ‘placation’ the church received on a Sunday, and the
    devil-may-care attitude the same people emanated during weekdays. With this in mind, I planned to examine this ghost money ritual more closely.


    “it seemed that Beelzebub himself was stoking the fires of Hell.”

    By fate or chance no occasion arose and eventually I forgot the whole matter. Some time later though one evening I decided to go to the DVD rental shop. I parked my scooter in the allotted place
    and strode inside. Subsequently emerging with my film choices, I saw the usual night scene had been transformed into a glowing nightmare, it seemed that Beelzebub himself was stoking the fires of Hell. A shop employee had filled up the brazier and the flames shot wildly in all directions, there were only a few wads left to go into the inferno, and he was obviously bored and in a rush to get the chore done, reverence was the last thing on his mind. My actual scooter was only a meter away, ready to commit itself to the sacrifice. I quickly jumped on the bike and rode off thinking that spirituality is sometimes sadly lacking in religious practices world over.

    Check out David Poulter’s book

     

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