Three years after the horrifying explosion at a water park, Si-Yu Lai of Soochow’s Department of Music, one of the hundreds of victims, is about to graduate with her Master’s degree this year. Thanks to the support and donation fund from the University and its alumni association, Lai is grateful that she could get back on her feet and play her favorite instrument again, just like a phoenix rising from the ashes with a new life.
Sending shock waves across Taiwan through TV broadcasts, the scenes of the infernal caused by the New Taipei Water Park Explosion in June, 2015, feel like it happened only yesterday. The incident had afflicted Lai with 2 to 3 degree burns covering 60% of her body, from her face, neck and limbs to her chest and abdomen.
Lai could barely recall what happened on the spot at that time, except being evacuated along with crowds of people, and being left with nothing to serve as coolers for her wounds. All she could do was keep wandering till she wasn’t able to walk any farther. Lying flat somewhere on the ground for some time, she was rescued by a kind person. She was hesitant about whether to contact her family, and finally decided to give the helper one of her friends’ number. “Because I didn’t know how I should tell Mom about it. I felt terribly sorry, for I didn’t take good care of myself,” she said, tears starting to blur her eyes.
When she regained consciousness, she found herself in the ICU. “Wrapped like a mummy and unable to utter a single word, all I could do was nod my head.” With the NG tube, she choked every time she drank water, so she would ask the nurses to give her an ice cube to hold in her mouth, where the ice would melt and the water could moisturize her dry throat. Despite her serious injury, the thoughtful girl did her best to cooperate and give as less trouble as possible to the nurses, be it painful or torturous.
The reason why she was determined to study in Taipei was she thought the place could provide more and better opportunities for her to make a living by playing the instruments, which would be exactly the lifestyle she had been longing for. Her injury simply made it harder for her to “face the music” that she might never be capable of playing the instruments with her twisted hands that resulted from the engulfing fire.
During the process of recovery, she was almost defeated by the throbbing pain. However, by listening to the classical music from the MP3 files prepared by her mom, she was enabled to make it through. Yet compared to the physical torments, the stress rising as high medical expenses accumulated was more suffocating, and she even broke down at times. Fortunately, the Soochow University Alumni Association launched a fundraising plan called Sunflower Project, and gained supports from over 400 people. This financial aid has allowed her to recuperate without worrying about the costs.
Lai was also grateful for all the greetings and cares from her classmates and teachers. Professor Cing-Ji Sun, the former Chair of Department of Music, almost forgot to wear a sanitized suit before rushing into the ward to see her. Chair of Department of Music Guang-Lin Peng always soothed her pain by qigong when visiting her. Su-Ling Zeng, Associate Professor of Department of Music, stewed chicken soup in person for her before going abroad. And a lot of her classmates had reached out their helping hands along the way.
Convalescing continually and overcoming physical and mental pain, Lai is getting better now and is about to finish her MA program, while starting to teach music as well as taking part in performances. What happened to her makes her realize that life is fickle, and that what matters is to live in the moment and cherish everything and everyone around her. She extremely appreciates the care and encouragement she has received to help her get over the trauma.
The fundraising plan was launched by Soochow University Alumni Association with an eye to provide financial assistance to the four students and alumni injured in the incident. Roughly 400 generous alumni had contributed to a sum of some NT$5 million to the fund by the end of 2017.
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