Erenlai - Aurélie Kernaléguen (柯蕾俐)
Aurélie Kernaléguen (柯蕾俐)

Aurélie Kernaléguen (柯蕾俐)

Settled in Asia since she was 17, Aurelie was one of those young kids, who, to the question "What do you want to do later in life?" always answered: "A reporter, but abroad"... After obtaining her Masters Degree in Journalism at National Taiwan University, she started to work for Radio Taiwan International. She is also very interested in photojournalism and spends her spare time wandering in the Taiwanese countryside with her camera. Interested in understanding better Asian culture in all its diversities, she likes to connect with many locals and especially the minority tribes of Taiwan. And if one day you do not see her around in Asia, it means she went for her other dream in life: living on a ranch in Wyoming in the amidst of only horses and green grass.

週六, 19 十二月 2009 02:30

Grandma Li: Stay young by helping others

Grandma Li lives in the countryside of Taiwan, in a small town near Chiayi City called Dalin.

As I entered her house in the morning, her welcome really touched my heart. She is a very cheerful old lady, whose generosity and kindness reminds me alot of my own grandmother. Although she could only speak Taiwanese, which I do not understand, she tried all day to remember some Chinese to converse with me. Grandma Li offered the most beautiful and grateful smiles to Oliver and my camera as we photographed her.

Grandma Li spent her whole life taking care of her family. After her children left home, she took care of her sick husband until he died a few years ago.

Unlike alot of old people in Taiwan who are quite isolated and spend their days alone at home, Grandma Li decided to make her life more entertaining by participating in Hongdao Association activities.

Indeed, the whole day we spent with her was punctuated by her activities with the Hongdao Association.

In 2008 Grandma Li earned the Golden Award for her voluntary work at the Hongdao Association.


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週六, 14 三月 2009 02:57

Hsin-Chin Deals With Life and Death

When I met Hsin-Chin for the first time, I immediately saw her as a sensitive woman and a thinker. As we talked more, I realized how generous she was too; she is one of those rare persons that people would go to when they needed consolation or a sympathetic ear.

Currently a student at the Institute of Life and Death Education and Counseling Department in Taipei, Hsin-Chin has decided to devote her life in helping people who lose their faith in life.

This decision is in fact, deeply related to her life experience.
As Hsin-Chin was still a teenager when her elder sister committed suicide. Qingqing who could neither forgive herself, nor her sister for putting such an abrupt end to her life, spent many difficult years mourning the her sister’s death.

After making several suicide attempts herself, she found a way to give a more meaningful value to her own life, and to the death of her sister: if only she could help other people in despair and their families, her sister would not have died for nothing.

She now works at Mackay Memorial Hospital, and talks with many young people in need. She is working hard to become a psychologist specialised in the matter of life and death, a very unique profession in Taiwan.

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週四, 30 八月 2007 00:39

"Agugai"!

Many people who were in the Fisherman’s Wharf in Tamshui near Taipei on July 29th will recognize the word meaning “hello” in the dialect spoken in Orchid Island. Aborigines on the shore were proclaiming the approach of the Orchid Island rowers in their last leg of their ascent up the North coast of Taiwan, reaching for their final destination after one month of sailing.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, many Taiwanese out for a Sunday walk at the harbour saw a small wooden boat with a distinctive shape on the horizon. With a closer look, they could distinguish 13 rowers in armors, wearing wooden hats. The red, white and black patterns painted on the boat clearly identified the aborigines of Orchid Island, a minority tribe living on a small island in the Pacific, South East to Taiwan.
It was a kind of boat built to catch the silvery flying fish around the island, and one that many Taiwanese had never seen for real before.

The same morning, the boat launched at Shaluen beach 沙崙, 30 kilometers away. As the rowers were getting ready, I was overwhelmed by everyone being in a state of great excitement. Surrounding the boat, after the ritual prayer and an impressive war cry, they suddenly, in a joint effort, pushed the boat into the sea and jumped in. Very soon, we could barely see its silhouette from the shore.
Near by, many kids were playing on the beach, not aware of the historic importance of this event in the lives and the culture of Orchid Island’s people.

I heard of the boat expedition for the first time when I went to Orchid Island with a good friend in April this year. Many locals told us about the preparations of a big event planned for the summer.
Sixteen years ago, Aborigines started to build the biggest traditional boat made on the island over a hundred years. During its construction, people came up with the idea of giving it a strong symbolic value: the boat will sail beyond the flying fishes areas, aborigines will row all the way up to Taipei and spread the culture of the small island.

The challenge was big; there were 600 kilometers of rowing ahead, enough to discourage most people. But the Orchid islanders have been sailors for generations and they were eager to participate in the expedition. The four main villages on the island set up four teams of rowers which took turn one after the other. They built their strength through unity.

Orchid Island since 1980 was often a news headline for the nuclear waste dump in the Southern part of the Island. The locals saw in this trip an opportunity to give a more positive image of the island.

While economic growth, in the last decades, has changed the face of Taiwan, people of Orchid Island seem to have slipped through the net, and their lives did not change. While I was there with my friend, we enjoyed sleeping on a house’s roof and reaching the sea for a morning bath before eating tasty sweet potatoes our neighbor offered us.

However, economic needs catch them up. Shilan, a 26 years-old-guy we met, explained us that most young people like him, are extremely attached to this island, but do not find more than a seasonal activity in Orchid Island. They need to go to Taiwan to find some work for the rest of the year.

He further said the boat trip was also a chance to bring back all generations of Orchid Island people to their roots and work together on a common project: introducing a way of living in real harmony with nature to the Taiwanese.
The stopovers of the boat along the East Coast of Taiwan were many opportunities to do so.

When the rowers finally reached Tamshui harbour, their dark faces, burn by the sun for rowing many days under the heat were lightened up by their families on the shore.
It is with great emotion that everybody acclaimed them.

Dancers from the aboriginal tribes of Hualien celebrated their success with traditional festivities. The last powerful scene of the day happened when the boat was taken out of the water to be brought by the rowers to the front stage.
With the final family picture shot, the aborigines turned a page of history of the Orchid Island people. The sunset marked the end of a long voyage.
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