Tue, May 13, 2008 - Page 2 News List

League casts light on kids??suffering

DISADVANTAGEDMany children in impoverished families have no toilet at home, while more than 3,000 take school lunches home to help feed their families

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Many children living in extreme poverty lack basic amenities such as being able to take a comfortable hot shower or having a toilet at home, the Children?? Welfare League Foundation said yesterday.

??n Taiwan, there are 110,000 children who live in middle or low-income families, 33,000 children under the age of four are not covered by national health insurance, while more than 30,000 children often take leftover food from their school lunch home so that other people in their family may have food,??the foundation?? executive director Alicia Wang (????? said at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

The welfare foundation discovered through its child support programs that housing was the next-biggest problem for low-income families, although it is often overlooked, Wang said.

??ccording to figures released by the Ministry of the Interior, low-income families use an average of 37.27 percent of their monthly expenditure to buy food, while housing costs follow at 18.66 percent of their monthly spending,??she said.

The housing issue will probably become more serious, as real estate prices seem to be on the rise after the presidential election, Wang told the news conference.

A video clip that shows where a pair of sisters surnamed Chang (撘?, aged 9 and 10, live was presented at the press conference.

The sisters??parents are divorced and have left home, leaving them in the care of their grandparents.

Their father, who works in another city, seldom sends money back home, and the two sisters depend on the meager income that the grandparents get from selling noodles.

The front part of their small tin-sheet house is their grandparents??small noodle restaurant, and the back is where they live.

However, the ??ooms??are nothing more than a couple of beds hand-made by the grandfather from abandoned wooden boards and iron rods.

The house has neither a toilet nor a bathroom.

??he sisters have to wait until the noodle restaurant is closed before they can take a shower next to the sink,??a foundation social worker surnamed Kao (擃?, who is currently taking care of the Changs, told the news conference.

??hen they need to use the toilet, they have to go to a public restroom which is about a five-minute walk from their house,??Kao said. ??he sisters told me that they try not to drink any water before going to sleep so that they won?? have to get up during the night to go to the toilet.??br />

However, when one does have to use the toilet at night, she wakes up her sister and they run to the restroom together, Kao said.

The Changs??case is not an isolated one.

Among the 1,000 children being cared for under the foundation?? poverty support program, about one in four said their homes lack some very basic facilities. This included 14.8 percent who said they did not have bathroom facilities at home.

??e really urge the public to pay more attention to the housing issues these economically disadvantaged families face and lend a hand to them,??Wang said.

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