Taipei, Feb. 25 (CNA) Australia and New Zealand's top envoys to Taiwan participated in a special fundraising event Thursday in Taipei, which involved sleeping on the floor in a cold room and having their electronic devices taken away to simulate homelessness.
The event, called "CEO Sleepout," was joined by several members of the Taiwanese business community and representatives from foreign countries, who were willing to be "homeless" for one night, in an effort to help raise awareness of the issue in Taiwan.
The event is taking place at a meeting room in the Holiday Inn East Taipei, where participants had the same meals served to the homeless people by the Salvation Army's care center.
They will also sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag on top of a thin layer of cardboard, and the air conditioning will drop the temperatures in the room to 7 degrees Celsius, said the Salvation Army in Taipei, which was the organizer.
The event was aimed at raising NT$1.5 million (US$45,069) to help the homeless in Taiwan, the Salvation Army said.
Among the 12 participants registered to take part in the event are Catherine Raper, head of the Australian Office in Taipei, and Si'alei van Toor, head of the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei.
Raper said she was happy to participate in the event aimed at raising awareness of the issue and money to help the homeless people.
By showing that she cares enough to do it, she said she wanted to encourage "other people to realize that this is a serious problem."
Asked about what will be the most challenging part for her, Raper said it will be sleeping on the floor when the lights are all out. Being taken away from her phone will not be a big problem for her, she said.
Van Toor said "it's really a worthy cause." She was pleased to be able to help raise the money for the homeless people in Taiwan.
She also finds it a challenge to sleep on a cardboard floor with strangers. Having her phone taken away will "probably be the most difficult," she told CNA.
Commenting on the event, Jennifer Groves, head of the Salvation Army's Taiwan regional headquarters, said "we are choosing to sleep on a cardboard on the floor in a cold room so that we can experience some of the discomfort the homeless are experiencing every day of their lives."
By spending time experiencing some of what they do, Groves believes that it will help her organization better understand the circumstances and be able to help the homeless better.
Her views were shared by the participants, including Tom Liu (劉亨慶), general manager of the Holiday Inn East Taipei, and Terry King (經天瑞), chief executive officer of ANZ Bank Taiwan.
The Salvation Army in Taipei is dedicated to helping the homeless, serving meals and offering programs to help homeless people find jobs.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, there are 5,050 officially registered homeless people in Taiwan, 4,371 of whom are men.
A major issue faced by homeless people in Taiwan is a lack of understanding in the community about the causes and effects of homelessness and the stigma attached to that condition, the Salvation Army said.
(By Elaine Hou)