WASHINGTON, D.C. – A few days after Typhoon Haiyan wrought unimaginable havoc in the Philippines, 13-year-old MeiJade Hsu made an impassioned appeal to her compatriots in the Taiwanese-American Community for them to lend a helping hand.
MeiJade’s call did not go unheeded and on Monday, the eighth grader from Maryland visited the Philippine Embassy to personally turn over to Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., a check for $17,430 representing the amount she helped raise for typhoon victims in the Central Philippines.
“A few weeks ago when Super Typhoon Haiyan smashed into the Philippines, I saw so many images of total destruction on the news,” MeiJade told Ambassador Cuisia.
“I was so shocked most when I saw that many of those images were of children without homes or food.”
MeiJade said she decided to help by campaigning in her own local Taiwanese American Community so that they could all help and donate together.
On 16 November, MeiJade made an emotional appeal for donations for typhoon victims during the annual Thanksgiving banquet of the Taiwanese Association of America-Greater Washington Chapter in Rockville, Maryland. She came prepared with empty letter envelopes.
“Here in the capital of the US, where many people of all ethnicities have all they want and never experience natural disasters like a super typhoon, it is our job to support those who are not as fortunate,” she said. “I talked it over with my parents and we decided that, as Taiwanese-Americans, we should help.”
“Taiwan is a neighbor of the Philippines and as good neighbors we should help each other,” said MeiJade, adding that her readings also allowed her to discover ancient links between Taiwan’s Ami and Kavalan tribes and those from the northern part of the Philippines.
“My mom is of Taiwanese aboriginal ancestry and so I feel even more connected to the Philippines,” she said. “I hope to give the children in the disaster zone a ray of hope and love.
“Because the Philippines and Taiwan have a long history of interaction, there is even more reason to be good neighbors to each other and to work closely together on many issues that currently face us – from environmental protection to peace and stability in the region,” MeiJade said.
In response, Ambassador Cuisia expressed his appreciation for MeiJade’s efforts on behalf of Filipino typhoon victims. “I cannot thank you enough for what you are doing to help our suffering countrymen in the Philippines,” the envoy said.
“The enormity of the devastation caused by the typhoon is unimaginable. The biggest challenge would be to reconstruct and rebuild, and not just houses , but also lives because many farmers and fishermen had lost everything,” Ambassador Cuisia said.
“Many will suffer for years ahead, but the Philippine people are resilient,” he added. “It is very important that people like MeiJade are giving them hope. She is an intelligent girl and her parents can be very proud.”
MeiJade was accompanied in her visit to the Embassy by several leaders of the Taiwanese-American Community led by Mark Kao, President of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, which helped raise the funds along with the Taiwanese Association of America and the North American Taiwanese Women’s Association.
“When the super typhoon hit the Philippines, Taiwanese-Americans knew they had to do something and MeiJade led the way,” according to Kao. “Our whole community knew that the Philippines needed help and we wanted to work with you as an ally.”
“We hope this will be the first step to building a cooperative relationship between Taiwanese Americans and the Philippines,” said Kao. “If there is ever any obstacle to the relationship between the Philippines and Taiwan, we are here to help you remove it.”