Mon, Jul 26, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Camp helps children affected by storm

SUN AFTER THE STORM The King Car Education Foundation is gving children affected by Tropical Storm Mindulle a chance to have some summer fun

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

English Schweitzer program teacher Jeremy Bartlow teaches children English terms related to cleanliness at Ji Ji township's Hoping Elementary School.

PHOTO: CAROLINE HUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Ordinarily, it is not common at Shui-li township train station in Nantou County to see children giggling, playing and dancing and learning English.

But that is what could be found there as a summer camp for children affected by Tropical Storm Mindulle kicked off last week.

"Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes," sings 22-year-old Benjamin Jacobs, an American working at the King Car Education Foundation's English Schwietzer program.

He sings and acts out the song patiently, exaggerating his movements for the children. The popular children's song is one of many activities of the English educational aspect of the foundation's Mindulle Relief Camp in Nantou County. The camp has been set up for children whose villages were devastated by Tropical Storm Mindulle early this month.

The camp is the foundation's attempt to keep children occupied while their parents ponder the damage and financial costs caused by the storm.

"I believe that recreational education is just as important as normal education," foundation general director Morgan Sun (孫慶國) said on the ride down to Nantou last Wednesday, adding that he feels parents in Taiwan place too much focus on testing, leaving children little time to enjoy themselves.

Under Sun, who has a background in recreational education, much of the foundation's work during its 20-plus years has focused on summer and winter camps for children and educational programming events such as the Schwietzer English program, which imports dedicated young teachers from the US to teach English in remote areas of the country.

The rescue camp is an extension of the camps the foundation normally runs each summer. The foundation had originally planned to hold a camp in Nantou County in August. But after the devastation brought by Tropical Storm Mindulle to Taichung and Nantou counties, the foundation decided to move its August camp foreward on the schedule and relocate near the disaster areas.

"When we learned of the disaster, we immediately went to Nantou and got in touch with the educational authorities," Sun said.

"Because we have good relations with the education boards in those counties, we were able to get the camp together, budgeted, and planned within a week," he added.

The camp, which is entirely funded by the foundation, aims to let parents busy with damage assessment and repair be free of the added burden of their children.

The camp is also free of charge for these people, Sun said. Many children have been stuck at home because summer camps or classes have been canceled due to the damage or because parents can no longer cover the costs.

The camp will run for six weeks at various schools throughout the disaster region, with the first week of the day camp being held in Nantou County and the second in elementary schools in the Ali-shan area in Chiayi and Taichung counties.

One such school that is benefiting from the foundation's camp is Ji Ji township's Hoping Elementary School in Nantou County.

The school suffered an estimated NT$3 million in damages from the storm.

"After the storm passed, I came back to the school and found that it was flooded with water 80cm deep," Hoping principal Chen Chien-chih (陳建志) said.

"We lost everything in our first floor computer room, and a lot of equipment and books were ruined, in addition to structural damage to the school buildings," Chen said.

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