“After-school tutoring is not just about grades; it is an offer of companionship, allowing students to feel loved and cared for and in so doing, guiding what could have been high-risk elements in society toward a path where they could contribute to society,” Bunun pastor Hsieh Kuang-chung (謝光忠) said.
Hsieh said he became a Christian after he finished his mandatory military service, and he worked many jobs in Tainan and Taipei where he saw firsthand the kinds of difficulties faced by people at the bottom of society.
After graduating from a theological college, Hsieh worked as a resident minister at nursing homes and hospitals before accepting a position at a church in Pingtung.
Hsieh and his wife, Chiang Shu-hua (江淑華), saw many families in Pingtung leading difficult lives — single-parent families living in wooden houses, elderly people living in houses without doors or windows beside railway tracks, and grandparents caring for their grandchildren because the children’s parents were estranged and the grandparents were forced to scrap out a living by collecting recyclables.
The couple established a tutoring facility in 2009 that they called the Bountiful Life Congregation to offer after-school tutoring for students from disadvantaged families to try and provide the children a normal childhood, he said.
The group charges NT$1,000 per semester, a price that even disadvantaged families could afford with dignity, Hsieh said.
Volunteers pick the children up after school, help them with their homework, provide dinner and snacks and then take them home, he said.
Monetary rewards are offered as an incentive to work hard for better grades, he said.
Weekday classes have an average of 30 students per day, while weekend classes are double that, with students ranging in age from elementary school to high school, he said, adding that they also offer music classes.
The group’s aim is to offer children companionship and instruction that their families might not be able to provide, Hsieh said.
With encouragement and companionship, children can have a happier childhood and devote more time to their interests, Hsieh said.
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