Nearly 80 percent of the children from the nation’s remote rural areas have to do household chores after school and nearly 30 percent of them say they are troubled by constant hunger, according to a survey released by the Child Welfare League Foundation yesterday, which has launched a fundraising campaign for disadvantaged children.
Watching cartoons, playing games, enjoying snacks or taking enrichment courses after school, which is probably the daily schedule for most children, are luxuries for some from remote rural districts, as a majority of them are busier after school than they are in it, according to the foundation.
Little Hsiung (小雄), a second-grade child from a single-parent family, has three younger brothers and one of them has cerebral palsy.
He starts his after-school routine by washing the dishes, drying and folding clothes, sweeping the floor. After that he helps with dinner preparations, bathes his brothers and changes their diapers.
The eight-year-old also has chores on weekends, when he works with his mother cleaning offices and houses or handing out flyers.
The foundation’s survey on how children living in rural areas spend their time outside of school found that 78.7 percent of them have to help with household chores, including cleaning the house (65.7 percent), doing laundry (40.5 percent), accompanying grandparents to visit the doctor or reminding them to take medication (37.8 percent) and assisting younger siblings to bathe and eat (30.7 percent).
Nearly 20 percent of the children also have to work to help cover family expenses by collecting recyclables, helping out on the family farm or staying in the family-run shop on holidays.
About 10 percent of them said they do not have dinner every day and 26 percent said they feel hungry all the time.
“About a quarter said that they had instant noodles or canned food, which are lacking in nutrition, for dinner. Leftover meals are another source of their dinners,” foundation chief executive Chen Li-ju (陳麗如) said.
Household financial stability is an issue for 23 percent of the children. And as a lot of parents from rural areas work in the cities, many of the children stay with grandparents and said they feel lonely, according to the survey.
Ninety percent of the children surveyed said they have a happy family and 86.5 percent consider their life to be very happy.
According to the group, the children have obtained a sense of achievement and built a positive attitude through helping their families.