TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A four-year-old girl was found living in deplorable housing conditions with four generations of her family in Miaoli City (苗栗市) after her kindergarten teacher discovered cockroach eggs in her diaper, Central News Agency (CNA) reported on Monday (June 17).
While changing the girl's diaper, the teacher observed that it had not been changed for quite some time and had turned black and yellowish. It even contained cockroach eggs, CNA reported.
The teacher also found skin rashes on the child’s buttocks, armpits, and neck. Therefore, the teacher reported the case to the Miaoli County Social Affairs Department, according to CNA.
The department directed social workers to visit the family in the company of the borough chief. During their visit, the social workers learned that the household had received the assistance of the city’s cleaning unit for years, according to the news outlet.
The social workers also learned that the girl lived with four other family members—her great-grandmother, grandfather, great-aunt, and uncle—in a traditional three-section compound. However, the front yard, backyard, and rooms were filled with miscellaneous objects. Old electric cords inside the house were exposed, and the ones outside were entangled with twigs, posing a safety concern, CNA reported.
The Social Affairs Department said that a county rescue association mobilized more than 20 members to help clean the family's living environment on Sunday. While they were moving objects around the house during the cleaning mission, cockroaches and rats were seen scurrying, eliciting screams from female volunteers, according to CNA.
Members of the association said it was hard to believe that the girl lived in such a deplorable environment with her family members.
Miaoli County Councilor Yang Ming-yai (楊明燁) said 200 to 300 bags of trash were taken from the house on Sunday, adding that when he visited the family again on Monday, he was shocked to encounter about half of the trash removed the previous day, according to the news outlet.
In the room where the girl lived with her 80-year-old great-grandmother, clothes, quilts, toys, bags, and plastic bags occupied the bed, and there was almost no space to sleep in, CNA reported.
Yang quoted the grandfather, 47, as saying that his mother and sister always pick up objects outside and stored them in the house. The grandfather said his wife left home because she couldn’t stand the squalid conditions.
Yang said the girl’s great-grandmother and great-aunt insisted on keeping the garbage, as they believed it could be sold for money. He added that they even refused his offer to buy the objects.
Yang Wen-zhi (楊文志), chief of the Miaoli Social Affairs Department, said that the great-grandmother and great-aunt are affected by hoarding disorder and that the department will try to persuade them to visit a doctor and participate in parenting education programs. He added that the department will also arrange for social workers to visit the family regularly and commission civil groups to help clean their house and improve sanitation there, according to CNA.