Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Economic slump has hit rural kids, donations: charity

DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD:The Child Welfare League Foundation said there is an increase in the need for assistance, but that it has seen fewer donations

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

The Child Welfare League Foundation called for donations yesterday so that children in remote rural areas would be able to enjoy the Lunar New Year holidays with a full stomach, saying that the economic downturn has led to donations being 70 percent short of its expectations.

A foundation survey found that 66.3 percent of children living in 75 remote townships with aging populations said that their New Year’s Eve dinner consists of canned food or dishes provided by others, while 27.3 percent constantly feel hungry and almost 10 percent would eat their New Year’s Eve dinner on their own.

Not only is the makeup of the meals a concern, foundation executive director Chen Li-ju (陳麗如) said a majority of them also do not have enough clothes or quilts to them keep warm during the cold weather, as nearly 40 percent of the children felt they were not wearing enough clothes and 63.3 percent said their quilts are not warm enough during winter, a two-fold jump from 30.8 percent last year.

However, when asked about their New Year wishes, the children did not have a large dinner or red envelopes at the top of their list.

The poll showed that 55.8 percent are worried about their family’s financial status and hoped that family members would find a stable job, while 48.5 percent are concerned about the school fees that need to be paid at the beginning of next semester.

Three children from Taitung County invited to the press conference by the foundation said their New Year wishes were for “healthy family members,” “daddy catching big fish out at sea” and “family members working safely.”

The families where the grandparents are bringing up the grandchildren are “the most vulnerable among the vulnerable,” the foundation said, adding that it is much harder for grandparents, with fewer working opportunities and lower income, to provide better living conditions.

Without care from their own parents, children raised by their grandparents are especially afraid of loosing elderly family members, with 64 percent saying that they are constantly worried about family members falling ill or passing away, Chen said.

Chen said the economic slump has contributed to an increase in the need for assistance, but also to a decrease in donations, and she called on the public to prepare an extra red envelope to help out underprivileged children.

Chen said those wishing to donate to underprivilged children can visit the foundation’s Web site at bee.children.org.tw for details of the “sending love to a remote rural area project” initiated by the foundation and the CTBC Charity Foundation.

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