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U.S. man shares volunteering experiences ahead of walk to Kaohsiung

2012/05/16 18:57:51

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) A former United States marine shared his volunteering experiences around the world with Taiwanese youth Wednesday, two weeks before setting out on a walk from Taipei to Kaohsiung to raise funds for facial reconstruction surgeries in developing nations.

Volunteerism not only makes a difference to the world, but also helps one start to appreciate things that one takes for granted, Winston Fiore said.

"You don't need to depend on your government for everything. You can become inspired by something, see a problem, want to change it and take action," said Fiore, whose Taiwan journey is part of a walk through Southeast Asia to raise funds to help children with cleft lips and palates.

Fiore started walking in Singapore last October and has so far walked his way up the Indochina peninsula, passing through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China.

After he finishes walks in Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines, he will have completed his journey, covering an estimated 8,000 kilometers in a year.

The 26-year-old said he developed the idea when he was serving with the U.S. military in Senegal in 2007. Seeing local women walking long distances to bring drinkable water home, Fiore said he decided to also "walk for a cause and try to do some good."

Displaying pictures of children suffering from cleft lips and palates, he said that "a small amount of money and a short amount of time is all it takes to turn the kids' lives around."

Noting that cleft surgery costing about US$250, Fiore said his goal is to raise US$50,000. As of Wednesday, he has raised US$41,554.

Showing reporters his "home," a survival pack consisting of a sleeping bag and water, Fiore said his walks were "not particularly frustrating."

Even though he does not speak local languages, he said people have always been generous in lending a helping hand.

Donations can be made through his website at http://smiletrek.org

(By Nancy Liu)
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