Simple Video Flash Player Module

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

time2online Extensions: Simple Video Flash Player Module

"Where There is Love, There is Always Hope"

By: Katherine Ho Lai-ha / International volunteer from Hong Kong


In my room I heard Hana’s hasty footsteps walking down to the third floor. She stopped then on the second floor in front of the prayer room, put down her bag and prayed before leaving for her work in Harmony Home. She is a missionary working as a volunteer in Harmony Home. When she moved in to our apartment building, I was already having my chemotherapy. It has been more than a year now since then. I still remember, whenever she went out for work in the morning, I would tell her: “Have a good day!” And when she came back from work, I would listen to her talk about her day in Harmony Home. I have always thought, what if one day, when I feel much better, I could also volunteer at Harmony Home?


I believe that, in life, there is a vocation for each person. This vocation makes life meaningful and full of energy. When I was still studying, I also worked at a part-time job. After much hard work, I finally graduated. Fortunately, after years of searching, I found a missionary community which I could feel a sense of belonging -- the Catholic Teresian Association. Later on, I found a day job as an editor for a magazine, and in the evenings, I taught English in a university. Although having two jobs made me busy, I enjoyed my work. In 2008, I was sent to the Philippines to a special kind of life. I had meaningful and life-changing experiences during my time there. I was thriving until I found out that I had cancer.


I can still remember that day clearly. It was spring and everything went on as usual, nothing different. But not for me, my world stopped moving at that moment. But I still believe that God has a special plan for every person. If my cancer took away all the plans and hope in my future, what is His plan for me? Throughout that whole year, I held on to my faith: I gave my life to God, the doctor took charge of the therapy, and I dealt with my own feelings. After my therapy, when I felt better, it occurred to me again to become a volunteer at Harmony Home Association. It was the perfect time for me to visit Harmony Home before I leave for Hong Kong, and I asked Hana to help me with arranging my schedule. Hana brought me to the halfway house for the adult patients. After Hana’s instructions, I was left on my own with all the patients and the staffs there. Being with them was quite comfortable because most of the time, we just watched the television and talked with each other.


Devotion and Feedback

During one of my visits, one of the patients asked me to go out for a walk outside with him. I took his hands to help him while we walked together. Since then, whenever I was in the halfway house, he would always greet me with sincerity. Another time when I offered another patient who was suffering with liver cancer, for a walk, he also became open with his attitude towards me. For me, it felt like no matter how much I give, I receive much more in return. Furthermore, the interaction and the sharing of the experiences with people in Harmony Home brought me unforgettable memories.

Sharing and Friendship

I met two women being sheltered in Harmony Home. They shared their stories with me. One of them was a Filipina. She shared how hard she worked in Taiwan to support her family back home. Life in Taiwan wasn’t easy for her, apart from work; she was raising her own daughter by herself. Despite her struggles, she maintained an optimistic perspective in life. The other woman was a Taiwanese. She was fired from work because she is HIV positive. She was fighting for her right to work and she has her hopes in getting it back with the help of the court. But her future remains uncertain. She saw that her problem with work only touches upon a bigger challenge that she struggles with, that is, there needs to be a change of attitude from our society towards people living with HIV/AIDS. And there is a long way to go still to reach this goal.

These two women shared their beliefs and life experiences with me. I barely have much to offer, but still, we were able to begin a precious friendship.


Besides being with the adults, I also had opportunities to spend time with the children, although there wasn’t enough time to listen to all of their stories. But every time I was with them, they always welcomed me with open arms for warm embraces. Their sweet laughter surrounded me. During weekends, the staffs and many volunteers would come together to be with the children. It was just like festival!


Harmony Home offers people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS various services and educates the public about HIV/AIDS. During my stay in Harmony Home, the students and teachers from Taipei European School (TES) had a community service project with students doing volunteer work in the shelter and helped raise funds for the children. I was fortunate to be able to attend their culminating activity for their project in TES along with the staff and children of Harmony Home. In one of the presentations prepared by the students, I learned more about HIV/AIDS. They showed how they spent their time with the children of Harmony Home. The children got a lot of attention from the students and aroused sympathy for their plight.

I deeply believe that this activity was not the end, but a beginning. This activity would transform the attitude of the students and teachers, and would eventually affect the people around them.

Katherine with one of the babies at the Taipei European school


As a cancer patient, I understand that having hope means a lot for the people who are sick and suffering. In situations wherein we cannot see hope, the more we need to hold on to hope. It is this hope, that would get us through the hardest times. In this volunteer experience, I found hope in pain and suffering. It will continue to exist there. I would like to express my gratitude to all the people of Harmony Home. I hope that you consider me, not just a passerby, but a friend -- a friend who will miss you and will pray for you always.