TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese student’s plea to help repair his family's house has received a warm response from a local charity, which took action on Sunday (Nov. 8) to turn the broken abode into a new, comfortable one.
The fifth-grader said that he lived with his sickly octogenarian great-grandmother, grandmother, and ailing aunt in a house in Yunlin County's Taixi Township, according to a CNA report. He wrote an SOS letter to his village chief, describing their poverty-stricken lives and the deplorable housing conditions they lived in.
The letter, dated Oct. 15, starts with a description of the boy and his family. He said he had been told that his mother, who is Indonesian, abandoned him and went back to her country soon after he was born and that he had been raised by his grandmother. He said his father was currently serving time in prison.
He wrote, “My family lives in a house that is more than 40 years old, has fallen into disrepair, and has leaking problems.”
He went on to write that his family has depended on the meager income his grandmother earns from repairing clothes and survived on vegetables she picks from fields. However, his grandmother recently fell ill, and the whole family has had to scrape by on government subsidies.
He said that he hoped there were good samaritans who could help them repair the house. Village Chief Lin Ting-yu (林錠玉) forwarded the SOS letter to the local charity Small Warm Station (溫暖小站), which assigned volunteer Yeh Neng-cheng (葉能振) as their case manager.
An on-site inspection confirmed that the conditions of the sheet metal house the family lived in were deplorable, Yeh said, adding that the house didn’t even have a toilet, according to CNA. Yeh pointed out that the family depended on the boy’s great-grandmother’s monthly senior pension of NT$7,000 (US$233) and a monthly subsidy of NT$3,000 for low-income households. The grandmother, who is not yet old enough to receive senior pension payments, had been repairing clothes and doing other odd jobs to make ends meet, Yeh said.
A fundraising effort launched by the charity’s chief, Ling Mei-yen (凌美燕), yielded a fund of NT$120,000, which the organization used to purchase materials, such as sheet metal, to repair the house. Meanwhile, Yeh wrote messages to various charities and volunteer groups online to recruit volunteers who could help with the repairs.
Yeh said that more than 50 volunteers responded by showing up at the boy’s house on Sunday morning. The army of volunteers proceeded to replace the old walls and roof and install a functioning toilet.
The whole project was finished by the evening. The boy and his family were delighted to see their new house, and they were all very grateful for the help they received, per CNA.
(Yeh Neng-cheng photo)