Seventy-four-year-old US Catholic priest Robert Crawford was granted honorary citizenship by Nantou County last Wednesday in recognition of his decades of work to provide care and services for mentally and physically challenged people.
Nantou County Commissioner Lee Chao-ching (李朝卿) presented the honorary citizenship certificate to Crawford at county hall, citing the priest’s devotion to equipping disabled young people with basic living skills.
Crawford first came to Taiwan in 1961 as a missionary, and since then has been devoting his efforts to social welfare work.
In 1988, Crawford joined efforts to establish an educational center in Changhua County for people with mental disabilities, and in 1992 founded a similar facility in Puli Township (埔里), Nantou County.
In 2004, the priest established a training center for persons with multiple disabilities at the Holy Rosary Church in Nantou’s Chushan Township (竹山). He started a daycare service, basic living skills training and home education for mentally and physically challenged youth over the age of 15.
Crawford, also known by the Chinese name Yu Jen-teh (游仁德), said his efforts to establish and operate educational facilities for people with mental disabilities was inspired by his own brother who suffers from Down Syndrome.
As special education programs in Taiwan cater mainly to teenagers and children, Crawford said, he founded the Rosary training center to help those who are older but could not manage their daily routines.