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A Gift of Masks from Taiwan
Author/ By Louise Gamble, retired mission staff to Taiwan

Protestant missionary work began in northern Taiwan when the Rev. Dr. George Leslie Mackay arrived from Oxford County, Ont. In 1872, work began in the town of Tamsui with three young men. When the Rev. Dr. Mackay died in 1901, there were 61 congregations as well as schools and a hospital in northern Taiwan. The result was the establishment of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. The Rev. Dr. MacKay was not a medical doctor, but he had some training and promoted a scientific western style of medical treatment. Today, the MacKay Memorial Hospital has auxiliary hospitals and clinics throughout the island, and a well-deserved reputation.

I have lived in Taiwan since 2001, involved in an intense research project about the Canadian Mission in North Taiwan. I lived on the campus of Tamkang Middle School, which was established in 1914 by Canadians. The connection with Canada is symbolized by a Canadian flag on the school emblem.

Taiwan has been extremely successful in controlling the coronavirus. There has been no community spread, and the only active cases are people returning from infected countries. They are quarantined in a government facility for 14 days, ensuring there is no further problem.

Taiwan learned early about the virus, and immediately put into action a public health protocol that was created following the disastrous SARS epidemic (2002–2004), when Taiwan was refused information by the WHO and naively caused a medical crisis.

This year, Taiwan ended its lockdown and by February 24, schools were opened with restrictions: constant temperature taking, all students and teachers wore masks, and physical distancing was implemented. Tamkang Middle School set rules that no student was allowed on the sports fields, and basketball was prohibited. There has been no indication of any virus in the school or in the town.

Taiwan’s National Health Department restricted the number of masks purchased by each family, available every two weeks. No hoarding was possible, but everyone had enough. The population was compliant with the restrictions, and few businesses had to close. The mass production of masks began. By June 1, all citizens could purchase as many masks as they wished and could send them abroad to family members.

The Taiwan Foreign Affairs Department, with its contacts in Canada, provided an enormous donation of safety equipment to be distributed in Oxford County. At the same time, the social department of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, through The Presbyterian Church in Canada, arranged for donations of health equipment, including masks, to be sent to Evangel Hall Mission in Toronto and the Anamiewigummig Fellowship Centre in Kenora.

Meanwhile, a friend in Canada shared news of the stress that caregivers were working under in senior facilities in Owen Sound, Ont. Teachers listened and began donating masks to be taken to Canada. Others heard about this, and the school principal encouraged all who could to donate to the cause. One class donated over 100 masks. Teachers and students alike joined in the enthusiasm to help.

Tamkang students have contributed almost 16,000 masks that were mailed to Owen Sound. On Sept. 2, 2020, the Mayor of Owen Sound, Mr. Ian Boddy, officially accepted this gift of masks for long-term care facilities in Grey County. I was present and spoke of the enthusiasm of the students and teachers as they joined in making this donation possible.

Along with Mayor Boddy, others attending this event included Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker, Chatsworth Deputy Mayor, Brian Gamble, and the Past-President of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, Michael Stainton.

Many facilities in the area received the masks, including Country Lane long-term care facility in my hometown of Chatsworth.

Students at school with Louise (centre).

Louise along with students at Tamkang School in Taiwan.



Submitted by:普世
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