Our Missions and Strategies---Rebuilding and Soaring with Spread Wings

/ By Evelyn Feng, CEO of Taipei Orphan Welfare Foundation

At the beginning of the year 2015, we had the opportunity to visit the Breakthrough Youth Village in Hong Kong and were very thrilled and greatly influenced by the visit.  Having met many inspiring role models at the Breakthrough Village, we were deeply touched by their persistence and sacrifices they made for over 40 years in the past. They have been accompanying a great number of youths in Hong Kong in helping them to overcome problems in various aspects of life and in fostering their potential and creativity.

 

Considerable reflection after the trip has led to re-assure the direction and strategy of our organization. Also, we must persevere with courage so that the orphaned children and adolescents in Taiwan can overcome the adversities and obstacles they are facing and pursue their purposes and dreams bravely.

 

The two main directions for the services provided by the Taipei Orphan Welfare Foundation are 1) Rebuilding and 2) Soaring with Spread Wings.

Rebuilding Tasks:

After starting the case of orphans from parents-losing families, our first task is to assist the family in rebuilding their homes, so that the children’s education is not affected at all by possible financial difficulties or unemployment. Such situations may have some adverse effects on the relationships between family members. The pains and emotional sufferings of losing one or both parents can deeply impact each family member psychologically.

We seek to help the children attend schools. We strive to provide financial assistances and to help the parents return to work. We also provide all kinds of groups and counseling courses to the families so that they can recover from grief within a short period of time. Hopefully, they become strong enough to accept the fact of losing their loved ones, cherish the remaining family members that are still around them, and move forward with courage facing the future life ahead.

As illustrated in the case of Xiao-Rou and Xiao-Hua, their mother wiping off her tears and leaving her status as a common housewife re-entered the job market. She worked two part-time jobs, one from 10am to 5pm in a restaurant, and another washing dishes starting after 8 pm everyday. In this way, she could drop off and pick up the kids before and after school. We are happy to see this family back on track. Life has been restored to the family, their financial situation has improved, and the smiles of the kids and the self-confidence and energy level of the mother have returned. 

Outwardly speaking, it seems like it should be an easy decision for the mother to make as to return to work. In fact it has been a difficult journey which took Xiao-Rou’s mother more than two years. She had to overcome numerous obstacles such as grieving, wanting to giving up on herself, distancing herself from her children, being reluctant to face problems, and feeling like she’s incapable of working and taking care of her children at the same time. Anyway, the mother has come a long way rebuilding herself. 

Our social workers and volunteers have spent a lot of time accompanying her and offering the family financial assistance and related resources.  It is crucial that we accompany the family until it is rebuilt.

Soaring with Spread Wings

In the past decade, we have provided services to over 5,000 orphans and their families. Among them, a lot of the kids are already in college now. Looking back on those years when they were still in high school, many were immersed in all sorts of struggles, including the challenges brought forth by the loss of their parent(s), financial difficulties, and other even greater challenges such as: how to define themselves, how to build the sense of their own self-worth, and how to overcome their sense of a bleak future.  Some frequent self-imposed questions are: “Do I have any dreams and goals?”, or ” Do I even dare to dream?”

When the social workers went to visit or invite the kids to join activities, they were often met with shy children who had their heads bowing low, talked with low voices and never dared to answer questions proactively. So our main focus for these adolescents is to accompany them, to help them recognize and build their sense of value, to boost their confidence, and to help them discover what they truly want and what their dreams are. Through different self-exploration activities, talent training, experiential education, career exploration camps and classes, these kids have been transformed remarkably throughout the years.

At the end of January 2015, we invited a few older kids to come for an event. We sat down and ate at a round table and had a good time talking. There were two college students and some high school students. We were happy to see that they were not shy about talking and expressing their opinions during our talk, and they even advised and encouraged each other. One can easily see the kind of confidence on their faces and softness and satisfaction in their eyes. No matter which school they went to, they were willing to work hard to pursue their dreams. We were deeply moved when they expressed their appreciation for the social workers in the foundation for their support and company. We thank each one of our staff members and social workers for their sacrifice so that the children can spread their wings again and soar high into the sky. Hopefully, their dreams will be fulfilled, and one day in the future they all can fly higher and farther.

We will keep going and keep up the good work. Through our ministries in Rebuilding and Soaring with Spread Wings, we hope to ignite the dreams of orphans in Taiwan and to inspire them to pursue their dreams. Thank you, all of our good friends, for your support and encouragement.

(Author is the CEO of Taipei Orphan Welfare Foundation.)