For a young person who has spent all her life in comforts of a sheltered Canadian society, it is almost impossible to imagine a world where human life has little value. But when she was only 12, Jen-ai found herself in exactly such a place: Taitung, a remote, rural region of Eastern Taiwan. Her father, a doctor, was lecturing at a local hospital and sent Jen-ai to accompany the hospital’s nuns as they delivered lunches to poor elderly in the mountains.
Her heart was filled with quiet resentment: how could he send her to such a filthy, uncivilized place? But as she witnessed the lives of people who had worked hard labor all their lives with little more than a concrete box of a house to show for it, people whose flesh was rotting in decay because they could barely afford a decent meal and people who had been abandoned by their own government and much of society itself, a pang of conscience stirred her heart. How was it that such injustice could exist?
Before she left Taitung that year, Jen-ai asked the Sisters a question. Why had they given up such a good life to work amidst what many would consider a hell shrouded by poverty and illness? One Sister replied simply: “Giving is a privilege because it is only people who "have" that can experience the pleasure of giving. It is a privilege which I can’t throw away.”
These words have remained close to Jen-ai’s heart, serving as a motivation for all that she does. Since then, she has dedicated many of her summers to volunteering in remote rural areas of China and Taiwan to provide medical relief and health education to some of society’s poorest and most marginalized ethnic minorities. In 2012, Jen-ai was awarded the national Schulich Leaders Scholarship in recognition outstanding academics and community involvement. Passionate about philanthropy and social justice, Jen-ai aspires to share her experiences abroad with people back in her local community. Currently, Jen-ai studies biosciences at the University of British Columbia. As co-director of Hope for Happiness, she is responsible for the Vancouver branch of HFH.
Hina Ukrani was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan until she immigrated to Canada during grade school. Growing up in Pakistan, she has witnessed the atrocities of poverty and gender inequality right at her doorstep. These experiences have had a deep impact on Hina Throughout her time at high school and university, these memories have inspired her to take on a wide variety of academic, work and volunteer activities in the hopes of making the world a better place one step at a time.
In 2012, Hina received the Jean Coulthard Award which honors a youth who has shown her passion for social activism within her local community and on a wider scale. In recent years, Hina has continued to demonstrate her unwavering commitment by volunteering at her local hospital and working to provide care to elderly individuals in a retirement home.
Today, Hina is studying biomedical science at the University of Waterloo. She serves as co-director of Hope for Happiness and is responsible for the Ontario branch of HFH.