Twenty-three children and teenagers have been recognized by the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families for their positive attitudes despite difficult circumstances.
One award recipient was 15-year-old Lo Ya-yin (羅雅尹), who has been collecting recyclables since she was four with her mother.
After her mother was paralyzed from the waist down, Lo helped massage her lower limbs to prevent them from atrophying.
“Mother always told me that if we survive the difficult times, then life would get better,” Lo said.
Lo added that she was almost adopted before reaching kindergarten age because of the family’s low income.
If it was not for her older brother, who refused to let anyone take her away, the family would not have remained together, she said.
However, she conceded that it was tough, adding that sometimes the family only had enough money to buy rice and soy sauce.
Having cooked from the age of 10, Lo said she aspires to be a chef.
Chen Kai (陳愷), another award recipient, was diagnosed with bone cancer when he was in the fourth grade.
Chen said that his strict doctor-recommended diet meant he could only watch as his classmates ate fried chicken and other treats, adding that he had to persuade himself that the smell of the food was enough to satisfy him.
Since being diagnosed, Chen has been in and out of hospital for chemotherapy, but since education is important to him, he had a tutor help him while he was hospitalized.
Chen said he understood how much his mother fears losing him, adding that all one can do with cancer is face it with humor and hope that the chemotherapy works.
Another student recognized by the foundation was junior-high school student Cho Li-wei (卓立唯), who lives with his grandmother.
Cho’s grandmother said Cho once found NT$20,000 at school, but turned the money in to police.
She said Cho was a very good person and always helped out around the house.
“There was one time when he had just come out of the shower and saw that I was about to take out the laundry to hang it and he rushed to take the laundry basket from me even though he was still only in his underwear,” Cho’s grandmother said.
Another award recipient was Lin Chien-ming (林建名), a sixth-grader who has been raised by his grandmother since his parents separated and his father was incapacitated by a stroke.
Lin said that the responsibility for the family’s finances had been assumed by his older sister after his grandmother also suffered a stroke.
Lin said he lacked self-esteem due to the family’s financial difficulties, but that he had found his confidence after joining the school band, which won a prize in a school competition.
Lin said because his sister had taken on the money-making role, he was tasked with caring for his grandmother, including helping to keep bugs away from her and getting her milk to drink every night.
Even though it takes 30 minutes to help his grandmother finish one cup of milk, it is still a job Lin said he finds happiness in doing.