Let’s be honest, the majority of us have some form of income on which to live comfortably and independently. We most likely also have a decent support group, however big or small, whether it’s family, friends or colleagues. So if you’re anything like me, you might’ve had the thought of one day lending a hand to those less fortunate. Maybe living in a foreign country where finding opportunities in English is an issue. Well, meet “Handful of Sapphires”, your chance to make good on that thought.
WHO is Daisy Lin?
Curiosity and activism has always been a part of Daisy Lin’s life while growing up. A US Berkeley graduate of Taiwanese descent, she returned to her mother country to climb the corporate ladder for nearly a decade in director-level roles regarding global business development and marketing for various industries from FMCG to niche luxury rarities.
Traveling worldwide and working an average 18-20 hours a day she decided to move out of a system that did not invest in the long term “profits” of the earth and back into the community. She believed that proactive involvement in the community was the right thing if she chose to live in society, that ignoring or thinking away problems does not solve problems. For a different future, real action needs to be taken. Thus Handful of Sapphires was created in 2011.
WHAT is Handful of Sapphires?
Handful of Sapphires is an online portal providing user-friendly information for Taiwan-based volunteers looking for opportunities to create a positive social impact in their community. A language proficiency rating system was implemented for those who did not speak the local language in addition to five different categories for potential involvement, spanning from animal welfare, art, indigenous tribes, the environment, to socially marginalized individuals.
Opportunities in the past two years have included volunteering with children and adults affected by AIDS/HIV, clothing drives, involvement in art video projects by the indigenous tribes or local artists, heading out to permaculture organic farms, assisting the disabled, homeless, building spaghetti bridges with kids, green sea turtle conservation, dog washing, and much more. People can learn about Taiwan’s history by participating in trips to human rights sites or visiting Green Island. Ongoing events are another platform providing exposure to ongoing local social policies affecting our communities.
WHY volunteer and WHY locally?
“First of all I feel that all of us are capable of making a change. Secondly, I want people to be active in getting to really know their local community by listening and seeing problems not as “tweeted” or “reported on” but first-hand. Using your own six senses to digest what you see then, expressing this to others, and coming up with a solution will empower you. No one should tell you how you feel or how you should solve an issue. Thirdly, I want to move beyond the now, go full circle back to basics in one-on-one human interaction. No more computers, mobile, tablet screens where we can just click “like”, but now we take on a physical form and presence to others. We are not just a biography snippet limited to 100 words, but so much more – and so are others out there.”
“I promote volunteering locally because it’s more environmentally friendly. We also need to open up our eyes to what is in our immediate surroundings. Travelling to exotic destinations once a year to find people that need help is not necessary as things that can be done and need to be done are all around us. They aren’t someone else’s problems that exist elsewhere, these issues are right here, right now – and we can do something about it. If we could all make that change in ourselves and around us, we can make a positive impact on the world.” – Daisy Lin
WHERE to next?
In 2013, Bright Side Projects was introduced to further strengthen the bond between communities, and to provide a platform and creative leeway for volunteers to design projects utilizing their own skills and talents. The first project was held on April 27 at Taoshan Youth Cultural Center (Hsinchu) where indigenous Atayal children learnt about canine welfare through various forms of hands-on arts and crafts including creating a personalized silk screen for printing onto their very own t-shirts . http://brightside.tw/2013/05/17/project-wrap-up-2013-427-advocacy-through-art-series-inspired-by-love-for-our-canine-friends/
Daisy’s hope is in the near future there will no longer be clear-cut lines on volunteering or “volunteers”, but simply, neighbors and people there for each other.
HOW to get involved?
Upcoming volunteer opportunities include:
– May 10 (Tainan) teaching children artistic expression through body motion https://www.facebook.com/events/312363188893600/?fref=ts
– May 4-5 (Taipei) Daisy is visiting both organisations and welcomes anyone who is interested to join to contact her.
Donations are needed to continue monthly workshops and start up long-term mentorships for a real positive impact.
Feel free to personally contact Daisy via email@example.com or any of the abovementioned organisations to register your interest, donate or just find out more. Stay updated via handfulofsapphires.org or twitter @taiwansapphires
THERE’S NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW TO START HELPING MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR OWN COMMUNITY
*photos courtesy of Daisy Lin, Jonathan Burke and 蘇嘉琦*