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Charity helps to build bridges between relatives

By Li Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-23 07:24
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Shenzhen Longyue Charity Foundation, an NGO in the mainland, is helping an increasing number of people to unearth information about deceased family members in Taiwan.

In 1996, Zhang Yajie began searching for the grave of her father Yang Weijun, a battalion commander in the army of the Kuomintang who was killed during a battle against the Japanese in Changde, Hunan province, in 1943.

"Nothing much was left of my father's memory except a martyr's park and a monument in downtown Chengde," said the 76-year-old, who uses her mother's surname.

"My mother missed him all her life, but all I could do was to show her a photo I had taken of the monument. Poor health meant she was unable to visit Chengde."

Despite years spent searching, Zhang had been unable to uncover anything else directly linked to her father by the time her mother died in 2003.

However, last year, she was contacted by Longyue, which was founded in 2011 and is devoted to healing the wounds of war and caring for veterans.

Zhang was surprised and delighted to learn that a tablet dedicated to her father's memory had been placed in the Taiwan Martyrs' Shrine in Taipei. Longyue arranged a visit and even covered travel expenses and hotel fees for Zhang and a companion.

The shrine, which was established in 1969, holds tablets bearing the names of more than 390,000 Kuomintang soldiers who have died since 1911, when the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was overthrown.

On April 24 last year, nearly 100 people from 26 families - including Zhang, her husband and son - arrived in Taipei for a weeklong trip. Some visitors went to the shrine to pay their respects, and some arranged to take their relative's ashes back to the mainland. Others visited relatives they had never met before.

"After the trip, I felt my mother's wish that I should seek information related to my father had been fulfilled and she could rest in peace," Zhang said.

Sun Chunlong, Longyue's director, said the charity launched an online campaign more than a year before the trip to collect every piece of information that could help it locate people who wanted to be united with long-lost family members on the other side of the Taiwan Straits.

"By launching these activities, we want to reduce barriers between people on both sides of the Straits and promote mutual understanding," he said.

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