The Taiwan Fund for Children and Families on Sunday commended 24 mothers and grandmothers for exemplary courage and effort in raising their families amid adversity.
The event was organized to recognize the exceptional strength of character displayed by female heads of household chosen from 27,000 disadvantaged or impoverished families the fund works with, fund chairman Cao Li-min (趙犁民) said.
Among the recipients was cancer survivor Lin Li-mei (林麗美), who has been working two jobs to provide for her grandson since her son’s imprisonment, even after she lost her stomach to cancer.
Lin begins her work day buying ingredients for her night market food stand, cleans public restrooms at midday, and works at the night market until 4am. She also transports her grandson to and from school.
Lin said she understands the importance of parental care for children because she was orphaned at a young age, adding that seeing her grandson grow up more than makes up for the exhaustion brought about by working up to 21 hours per day.
Lin said that she is grateful to be able to work after her stomach was removed and that she regularly cooks at Taiwan Fund for Children and Families gatherings on a volunteer basis.
“You must repay droplets of other people’s kindness in torrents; I cannot help with donations, but I can definitely help,” Lin said.
Lee Hsiu-chen (李秀珍) is a grandmother with polio who supports two generations of dependents in the absence of her eldest son, who is also in prison.
Lee has several jobs, including recycling, vegetable farming and raising chickens to provide for her husband, who is severely intellectually disabled; her second son, who has moderate intellectual disabilities; and two grandchildren.
“You have to stand on your own two feet even if you face tough circumstances. What one person can do, I can do, too,” Lee said, adding that she hopes her grandchildren will grow up to be rich and help people in need to return the charity the family has received.
Lee Chiu-lan (李秋蘭) has congenital cerebral palsy. She has been supporting her family of five since her husband was involved in a traffic accident years ago as he was returning home from work on foot. His severe injuries left him with amnesia, impaired speech and motor functions, and no capacity for employment.
Lee Chiu-lan said that due to her condition, she depends on her tricycle to commute to the supermarket where she works as a cashier and she often encounters people staring and outright discrimination from people at her workplace and in daily life.
Lee Chiu-lan’s three children have been doing well at school, and her eldest son, Hsiao Tzu-hao (蕭子豪), received the President’s Educational Award for academic excellence when he was a third-year student at junior-high school.
Hsiao Shu-fang (蕭淑芳), Lee Chiu-lan’s daughter, said that in her mind Lee Chiu-lan is “the most beautiful mom in the world.”
Hsiao Tzu-hao added that Lee Chiu-lan’s toughness and courage, as well as her willingness to ask for help when it is needed, have served him well as lessons in confronting life’s challenges.
Lee Chiu-lan’s message for her fellow mothers at the ceremony was: “Never give up.”
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