Drowning Strangers

X’mas Eve I watched a re-run of CNN heroes and was really inspired by Maggie Doyne, an eighteen year old who became a mom of fifty kids in Nepal from her US$5,000 savings of babysitting money. But the street doctor Dr. Wither’s  “I didn’t go under bridges to save homeless people. I went there to  save myself and perhaps my profession” really stuck to my mind.

I was shocked to find Maggie Doyne’s adorable baby Ravi whom she saved a year ago died from an accident just around New Year. Loss would be too painful to bear at her young age and yet Ravi was very fortunate to have her lavish motherly love at least for many months. Her natural role becoming a mother with a large family of children makes me jealous, since junior high I had always been attracted to volunteering at orphanages and a few years ago went to Africa to help start a school at an orphanage.But J.K.Rowlings’ work of deinstitutionalization of children in the world at her Lumos charity would be my choice after what I experienced. Not everyone has as much love and energy as Maggie.


I blogged about the homeless in the library but the other day a librarian was beaten by a reader. A nun has been hallucinogenic and yelling loudly from time to time.There are many people with mental illness at the library, some homeless, some angry and disturbed, some schizophrenic. Most of them are babyboomers and once in a while there are students breaking down from the pressure of exams,mumbling and walking back and forth in the courtyard.I wish there were street psychiatrists who would help treat them at the library.Unfortunately psychiatry resources are inadequate even in Taiwan’s medical facilities.

Before the new year, I was struggling to decide if I should continue with my plan to combine writing and doing good through donations of book sales (that do not seem to be working) or do some actual good that would benefit people immediately around me. The homeless and the mentally disturbed would be closest, yet I must admit I am afraid of them and don’t know how to handle them let alone help.Homeless and elderly resources are very limited in Taiwan.

I visited a young couple who started a very successful community on reading and doing good according to the media only to find their target audience of millennials hardly read books and they have trouble paying even their project workers from income on classes for corporations.

The mayor commented he could not understand why seniors  account for almost 25% of traffic accidents. I blogged about seniors getting run over before. After talking to some friends at the senior center about my advocating for seniors on safer traffic regulations or public health and safety in urban living, they all feel it will amount to nothing given the Taiwanese mentality and bureacracies and encourage me to keep on going with my writing projects. Senior welfare though loudly promoted, it’s window dressing in reality.

Book reviews of Larissa MacFarquhar’s “Drowning Strangers” on doing good came to the rescue. Hope my recommendations for purchase at the library will come through soon.

Strangers Drowning Morality ExtremityDrowning Strangers
“Keep yourself well before you keep others well.”Chuang Tzu.




A Home for the Angry & Hopeless

The San Bernardino shooting was a big shock to everyone. I went to graduate school at one of the UC campuses nearby many, many years ago. It was a desolate place for someone growing up in the hustle-bustle of Asian cities. Who could imagine a terrorist attack would be initiated by someone with a good paying respectable job, a newborn infant and a comfortable home? Unemployed young Muslim chaps in France or Belgium radicalized by ISIS might be easier to understand.

It reminds me of Japan with some horrible stories of killing by the most unexpected people and even junior high students from time to time. I read an article in Huffington Post about Richard Gere’s Homeless movie, the author condemned Americans averting from losers and failures. She did  mention homeless is a problem in all countries. Images of a documentary on how mentally ill people in Africa were chained to trees came to my mind and then a pastor who was once one of them resurrected many with his born again mission and charity  for the mentally ill.

For months, I walked home at night in fear because there was a homeless man who would breakdown in horrifying tantrums once in a while outside a MRT station where he slept and kept all his belongings on a wheeled office chair and a bike. Sometimes he would hang his laundry on the raincoat rack outside the National Library nearby. There are many homeless and mentally unstable people in that library. The kind librarians are human punchbags for them to lash out their anger ignited by the most trivial and unreas0nable matters.Sometimes they would pick a fight with other readers. Policemen stationed at the library would not appear even the frantic librarians paged them nonstop. When they finally came, they would just take the exploded human bomb outside and let them lash out in screams and shouts for an hour or more. Sometimes they would call their families who would say there was nothing more anyone could do or they were abandoned and estranged.

Once it was reported in the news a homeless nun had a PhD. degree.There is a homeless woman who reads Jane’s Defense Journal in English. She had an episode in the library once, she shouted,”Shameless Taiwanese!” She was right, after reading the billionaire acquitted for selling adulterated cooking oil or owner of the water park that had a fire killing fifteen people so far and injuring hundreds, the park was untouched by prosecution but the event entrepreneur was sentenced for five years in jail.

Another elderly lady lives alone would lie down in the library senior center when she had been sick for days even though she owns a few expensive properties. The librarian called the ambulance, the paramedics checked her vitals or blood sample and took her home when she refused to be sent to the hospital.

The compassion of the librarians is admirable. I must admit the library offered me a real home for free bibliotherapy (reading and writing) when I was hopeless with grief in a home without a family.

Though the National Library is for research, it has become a home for the homeless, helpless or hopeless when there are very few if any proper shelters in Taiwan, functional care programs for elderly living alone or families who have given up on the mentally ill. Yet the angry can be human time tombs that may explode even though guns are hard to come by and ISIS is not yet in Taiwan. Mass or individual killings with knives for cutting watermelon or fruits are always in the news.

The family or neighbors of the San Bernardino shooter did not spot any abnormal sign of the shooting couple.Obviously there was not a real home to vent out their anger or despair.

My adorable late husband once missed dinner and came home very late one night. He listened to an angry wife badmouthing her husband (his staff) for six hours. I asked him why didn’t he take her out for dinner. He said she would not stop talking if she was not hungry.

No matter how evil or heartless it may seem, everyone has a story behind the actions, if only someone cared to listen and understand.