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Girl living in crowded, snake-infested Nantou hut calls for help

Welfare loophole leaves her poverty-stricken family of eight fighting to survive

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The one-room hut in Nantou where the girl sleeps on the floor with five siblings each night. (Facebook, Yeh Ren-chuang photo)

The one-room hut in Nantou where the girl sleeps on the floor with five siblings each night. (Facebook, Yeh Ren-chuang photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – An 11-year-old girl living in poverty in a hut in Nantou County has pleaded for help in a handwritten letter to her local legislator.

The girl, the eldest in a family surnamed Lin (林), revealed she shares the tiny shack with five siblings and two parents. The legislator, Yeh Ren-chuang (葉仁創) posted the letter and photos to Facebook, where the girl’s plight garnered much attention, according to a UDN report.

In the letter, Lin described her desperate living conditions. She said she sleeps on the hard floor with her siblings where, due to the shoddy foundations of their dwelling, snakes regularly slither.

"I am afraid of the snakes,” she wrote. “We only have one room in our hut. I really hope my brothers and sisters can have their own room so we can sleep soundly.”

“I beg Legislator Yeh Ren-chuang for help,” she finished.

Yeh said Lin’s father scrapes by doing odd jobs, but his work has been unstable since the onset of the pandemic. Her mother has just had her sixth child and therefore cannot work.

With the parents' meager combined income, the Lins clearly qualify for low-income welfare. Yet due to their small plot of ancestral land not having been certified by the authorities, their application was rejected, Ye said.

Yeh said he had never before received a letter from such a young member of his constituency and that learning of the little girl's desperation shook him emotionally. He promised to do what he could to engage the family and improve their situation.

Yeh said he has contacted Nantou County’s Department of Social and Labor Affairs to dispatch officers to the Lins’ and look into their case as soon as possible. He also said he aims to gather a group of volunteers to renovate the family’s dwelling.