Saint Christopher’s Church in Taipei is urging the government to help international students who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Many of the students who have lost jobs are having trouble supporting themselves, Father Gioan Tran Van Thiet said on Monday as he helped with the weekly free food handout program at the Catholic church.
Since the food program began in late April, close to 170 students have come to the church for assistance and to collect food such as fresh vegetables, fish and meat, and other daily necessities, he said.
“Hopefully the government and universities will look more closely into the difficulties of the students and are able to provide some sort of assistance, such as reduced dormitory fees and food prices,” Dang said.
Father Hendrikus Arianto Ukat said the church has “seen students from the Philippines, Indonesia, from all parts of Asia and also Africa” taking part in its food handout program.
Twenty-one-year-old Vietnamese student Anna Dang said she lost her job at a night market that had helped cover her living expenses of about NT$7,000 a month.
“Living expenses are higher in Taiwan” than in Vietnam, she said. “And it is also rainy season now, so the prices of vegetables have increased.”
To assist foreign students during the pandemic, the government and universities should help recommend part-time jobs, Dang said.
A university senior from Vietnam, identified only as Sophia, said she lost her job about four months ago and has been unable to find a new job since.
“I used to have a job selling fruit at a night market, but when the pandemic came I lost my job. I have tried to look for a new one, but it is too hard,” she said.
She has expenses of at least NT$9,000, but she cannot ask her parents for money too often, because they have their own hardships, Sophia said.
She said she hoped the government would include foreign students like herself in the Triple Stimulus Vouchers program that starts next month to help them pay for living expenses, which are now only available to Taiwanese and their foreign spouses with residency permits.
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