The Ricci Institute and eRenlai Projects

The Ricci Institute is a not-for-profit group based in Taiwan which works on projects in both Taiwan and the PRC that directly improve the quality of life for people and communities in a sustainable, environmentally responsible manner. The firm helped raise funds for The Hope Center, Operation Deshandicap and the Yangjuan Village Primary School Project by conducting a silent auction and a raffle during the TerraLex 2007 Asia Pacific Regional Meeting.

The Hope Center, Taiwan

Migrant workers are an often overlooked community contributing to society, whether they be heavy construction laborers assisting in the improvement of the fabric of infrastructure or domestic workers providing support to overburdened families. In Taiwan, a number of different groups, both governmental and charitable, provide support to this migrant community in various ways – medical, social welfare and so on – and the Hope Center in Chungli city now provides another valuable and unique service.

Michael So was prompted to found the center when he acknowledged how moved he’d been when asked by a Vietnamese worker, gazing despairingly at a blank computer screen, how he could use it to contact his family. Today, volunteers at the Hope Center offer a foundation course in basic computing that helps migrants from other Asian countries not only to keep in better contact with their families during their stay abroad but also to acquire some useful skills for making a fresh start when they return home.

Operation Deshandicap, Taiwan and China

“Operation Deshandicap” was founded more than thirty years ago by a disabled American missionary, Bob Ronald. Bob’s own experiences with the rehabilitative care he received in the US were in sharp contrast to the experience of those in a similar position in Taiwan. Whilst the hospital care for the newly disabled was reasonable in Taiwan, beyond that their lives were utterly destroyed. Very often they were unable to return to live at home with their families due to architectural barriers, and similarly prevented from returning to school or to work. Their independent lives were effectively over.

Bob founded Operation Deshandicap to help Taiwan’s disabled people and their families, in particular those who have been disabled through polio or muscular dystrophy, with basic services such as counseling and guidance on how to come to terms with their new situation, and how to make best use of the available rehabilitation technologies. Bob is now setting up a similar organisation in mainland China and, with the help of some disabled associates in Shanghai, is planning to conduct information sessions there later this year. Help will be needed with travel and marketing expenses for the establishment of this new branch of Operation Deshandicap. You can hear more of Bob’s story and his plans for the future here.

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Yang Juan Village, China

Yangjuan is a village located in mountainous and impoverished south-west Sichuan, in the Yi minority Liangshan prefecture. By combining resources and cooperation from overseas and local Chinese, Taiwanese and American students, and other partners, the village was able to build and open its first primary school in 2000. Since then, the school project has evolved to include a scheme of teacher training workshops and the award of scholarships for gifted minority children from the primary school to progress to the county-level middle school.

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