Thu, Oct 13, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Taipei recognizes unsung heroes in `healthy' initiative

BY MO YAN-CHIH  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chuang Yen-i (莊研誼) established the Ki Li Gan Puppet Show (唭哩岸布袋戲團) in Beitou five years ago on his own. Dedicated to passing his cultural heritage on to the next generation, he decided to teach children puppeting skills for free, and the children's troupe has given puppet shows around the community.

To pay tribute to Chuang and 56 other "healthy city representatives" who have contributed to making Taipei a healthy city, the city's Health Department held an award ceremony to honor these unsung heroes.

As part of an effort to promote the concept of a "healthy city," the city government invited experts in community-building, urban planning, transportation and public health to select 57 "healthy city representatives" who contributed to the city's health in 10 fields, including ecology, friendliness, culture, health, vitality and safety.

Chuang, for example, was honored as a "culture representative" for passing on his traditional art, and also enhancing the sense of community through puppet shows.

"Most of the traditional folk arts have focused on their history. But I think that to have a future, traditional art must be infused with new ideas and creativity," he said.

So the Ki Li Gan Puppet Show troupe writes its own scripts and seldom performs old plays.

In traveling around different villages to perform, the troupe has even attracted community members to participate in the show as volunteers.

Also honored for making contributions to the community was Khon Lay-boon (許麗雯), a Malaysian-Chinese who had never been to Taiwan until she married her husband 15 years ago. She volunteers to teach Chinese to foreign brides.

After going through many difficulties in trying to get used to life in Taiwan as a new bride herself, Khon said she can identify with the foreign brides and share her experiences with them, and she hopes to help them to blend into society more quickly.

"It is rewarding to teach these foreign brides Chinese or even just talk to them ? I hope more foreign brides' families will allow them to leave home to learn Chinese or just breathe a little," she said.

The idea behind the city government's "healthy city" project came from a World Health Organization (WHO) statement in 1984 that said promoting good health involved enhancing the ability of the public to take control of the process.

The WHO said that improving the community environment, cultivating civic rights and stimulating participation, as well as effective investment, should be emphasized to maintain and promote the health of communities.

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