Children living in poverty are largely happy with their family life despite everyday hardships, but more aid is needed to keep their families from falling apart, the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF) said.
The charity said that of the 10,429 households that it provides with regular financial aid, there are about 21,000 children that have at least one sick or absent parent.
However, a survey conducted by the fund and the Chinatrust Charity Foundation last month found that minors living in impoverished households do not worry about taking care of the sick family member, but fear that “one day, their only home will be gone,” fund executive director Betty Ho (何素秋) said.
“In the mind of those children, they feel happy as long as they get to stay in a family with a positive relationship. However, such happiness is fragile. It could crumble any time if there is a family problem, even a small one,” Ho said.
The survey, conducted between Dec. 14 and Dec. 25, found that 76.6 percent of responding children said they are happy just to be able to live with their family, even though it also found that 35.1 percent of the respondents go without breakfast at least once a week.
That is more than 10 times as many as the 3.5 percent of children in households that are not classified as poor, the fund said.
Another 49 percent of interviewed families supported by the fund live without air conditioning and heating, compared with only 11.1 percent of households overall.
Moreover, 63.2 percent of the families said they did not have learning tools or other materials for children, 36.1 percent lack an Internet connection and 32.9 percent do not have a computer.
To help provide more aid for such children, the fund and the foundation last week launched the Lighting Up the Fire of Life program in the hopes of raising NT$100 million (US$3.15 million).
At a news conference on Wednesday last week to announce the program, several youngsters introduced themselves and their families, although they did not give their real names.
Ten-year-old Tung Tung’s (童童) father was a carpenter before developing mmyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His inability to work left the family in poverty, but Tung Tung remains in high spirits, despite the stress of helping to care for his father.
“I try not to think too much and live in the present, and I hope for our family to enjoy every day. I hope dad can recover one day and we can be together forever,” Tung Tung said.
Hsiao Chun (小淳) said she has to get up in early every day to help her parents buy ingredients for their small breakfast shop before going to school. The 11-year-old has six siblings, and her father suffers from severe asthma and heart and kidney diseases.
With an income of about NT$18,000 a month, the family lives in a 20 ping (66.12m2) rented home and is under a great deal of stress, Hsiao Chun’s mother said.
“Our kids are all so helpful. As long as we can live closely together, we are not afraid of any pressure,” she said.
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