Wed, May 07, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Funeral science students ready fire victims for free

By Tang Shih-ming and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

When Kuo Chang-cheng (郭璋成), a mortuary science teacher at Jen-Teh Junior College of Medicine, Nursing and Management, saw the news of a recent fire that killed five members of a Changhua County family, he organized a group of 12 students to provide postmortem make-up for free.

A fire broke out in the early hours of April 14 at a bakery in Yuanlin Township (員林) run by 52-year-old Ho Nan-sheng (何南昇). Ho, his wife, 17-year-old daughter and parents were killed, burned beyond recognition.

The only family member left is Ho Hsin-yi (何欣懌), 19, who was at his university in Taipei at the time.

Kuo, who teaches a mortuary make-up class at the Miaoli County college, offered to organize the make-up for the family, a gesture appreciated by Ho Hsin-yi and Changhua County Councilor Chang Hsueh-ju (張雪如), who is helping him with funeral arrangements.

“Kuo divided the 12 students into four groups of three each. The students first bowed to the victims before carefully cleaning their bodies and reconstructing their appearances,” Chang said.

Chang said the students used environmentally friendly materials to reconstruct the victims’ limbs and faces before applying cosmetics and wigs.

It took the students nearly 14 hours to complete the work.

Wu Yu-en (吳予恩), who worked on Ho Hsin-yi’s mother, said she was glad that she was able to make the victim look as if “she was only sleeping.”

Kuo said the pain of seeing family members disfigured by fire is not something that will ever go away.

“No one would want to leave the world in such a condition, so we felt obligated to help them leave with dignity,” Kuo said.

Chang said Ho Hsin-yi was deeply touched by Kuo and the students’ assistance.

“The usual fee for making up a corpse is about NT$150,000. Kuo and his students not only saved Ho Hsin-yi NT$750,000, but also allowed his family members to leave the world in the best possible state,” Chang said.

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