Taipei, May 4 (CNA) A project spearheaded by a French priest to build a nursing home in Hualien County is facing a big gap in funding, but it will still hold its groundbreaking ceremony this week as fundraising efforts continue, the priest said Wednesday.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility, projected to cost NT$80 million (US$2.47 million) to build, will be held Friday as scheduled, said Yves Moal, a French Catholic priest who received Taiwan's Presidential Culture Award in the humanitarian category in 2015.
The nursing home currently faces a funding shortfall of about NT$50 million, but Moal is very optimistic that the necessary funds will be obtained.
Fundraising will continue as construction proceeds, said the 74-year-old priest, who has been devoted to humanitarian services since he came to Taiwan about 50 years ago.
Moal has been in charge of St. Andrew Training Center for the Disabled in Hualien County's Fuli Township for 17 years, and he said that with the center taking on more young people with disabilities a new nursing home was needed to better care for those at the center who have grown into adults.
As part of Moal's effort to raise funds, he said he wrote a letter to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last week to ask for the president's assistance.
The Presidential Office later sent Ou Chin-der (歐晉德), a former Taiwan High Speed Rail Co. chairman, to meet with Moal and express its willingness to provide funds to cover the costs of construction materials, such as steel rebar and concrete, the priest said.
Further details have yet to be worked out, Moal indicated.
"I am confident of building the facility. Taiwanese people have a good heart," he said.
Moal, who came to Taiwan to be a religious worker at age 25, was awarded a Presidential Culture Award in the humanitarian category last year in recognition of his efforts to care for the physically and mentally challenged, homeless, orphans and other underprivileged groups in Hualien.
Moal was also commended for helping preserve indigenous cultures and languages by compiling a Bunun-French dictionary, as well as English and French glossaries for the Amis.
(By Lee Hsien-fong and Elaine Hou)