By Abigail E. Calipjo, ChildFund Philippines
| ||Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou (center) welcomes Shawn, Arron and members of the ChildFund Alliance.|
In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF), Arron, 13, and Shawn, 10, enrolled children from two Taiwan-dedicated projects of ChildFund Philippines, flew to Taiwan to help in TFCF’s campaign to encourage more Taiwanese to sponsor children in other countries.
“I was very happy when they told me that I’m going to Taiwan. I never imagined I would be able to go there,” says Shawn.
Arron, meanwhile, was both excited and apprehensive. “I thought of backing out when they told me what I would be expected to do in Taiwan.” But his excitement about riding an airplane and traveling out of the country for the first time took over.
A highlight of the children’s trip was a meeting with their soon-to-be sponsors: two classes from Lizen High School in Taiwan. The students cordially welcomed the children and presented them with a boxful of gifts. In return, Arron performed a Filipino rap while Shawn sang a song. The classroom meeting was a media sensation, with extensive newspaper, TV and Internet coverage.
Arron and Shawn also joined ChildFund Alliance board members for a meeting with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou. In his welcome remarks, President Ma expressed his admiration for the work and longstanding contributions that ChildFund Alliance and TFCF have made in caring for the underprivileged. The Filipino children presented laminated artworks to President Ma, along with a collection of other drawings from TFCF’s project areas.
Shawn and Arron also provided entertainment during the welcome dinner of the ChildFund Alliance board of directors meeting, which coincided with TFCF’s anniversary celebration. The pair performed a Korean-inspired dance number, captivating their audience.
As part of TFCF’s anniversary celebration, Shawn was invited to accompany one board member in a symbolic presentation depicting ChildFund’s commitment to its mission. The program included a presentation of TFCF’s history and a renewing of commitment for the cause of TFCF by ChildFund Alliance Chairman David Taylor of New Zealand, ChildFund International President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard, other Alliance members and state politicians.
Despite their busy schedule, Arron and Shawn had the chance to explore Taiwan, taking in a city tour and two amusement parks — a terrific first-time experience for both children.
Arron says the most memorable part of the trip was meeting Taiwan’s chief executive. “I still can’t imagine that he shook my hand and introduced me to a lot of people. I feel very lucky.”
For Shawn, the entire trip was something he will remember for as long as he lives. “Our student sponsors were very friendly. They gave us gifts and took our pictures. I felt like a celebrity. When I saw my picture in the newspaper, I felt proud.”