Wed, Nov 09, 2016 - Page 13 News List

How to grow a community in under a year

The mobile library for Indonesian migrant workers at Taipei Main Station has become a gathering space for people to socialize and help each other out

By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

Yusni, a caregiver working in Sansia, says she visits every week after attending an activity or class in Taipei. She has made many friends through the library, referring to it as a “place to chat.”

Everyone is warmly greeted with hugs and handshakes. Wu hands out items he brought back from a recent trip to Indonesia as one lady asks him how to address the parents of a significant other in Chinese. In another corner, an Indonesian is helping a Taiwanese girl try on a hijab. Many linger even after Brilliant Time staff take the books away at 6pm to store in a nearby Indonesian business.

Most of the Taiwanese are associated with Brilliant Time, but some are here for school projects or to practice their Indonesian. Some stop by out of curiosity.

Wu says this environment can help himself and Brilliant Time understand the Indonesian community better as they strive to contextualize and improve the lives of Southeast Asians living in Taiwan.

“There’s a lot of information exchanged here, whether it’s private or organizational,” he says. “We can collect lots of stories here.”

Talking to Indonesians there, one will often hear examples of the problems that Tantri deals with. Yusni mentions that she feels lucky to have every Sunday off, as she has a friend who isn’t even allowed to leave the house.

Tantri says the conditions for workers have improved much over the past six years she’s been here, but the problems remain. On a Sunday afternoon early last month, she hurriedly returned to column F24 after briefly visiting a protest for migrant workers’ rights, lest people need to talk to her and cannot find her.

“It doesn’t matter if I don’t get to see the beautiful sights of Taiwan,” she says. “I need to be here.”

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