08/21/2012, 00.00
TAIWAN
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Immigrant children integration through summer activities in Taiwan

by Xin Yage
A Catholic group and municipal authorities work together to help children learn the language of their new country and that of their mothers'. Summer schools also take a burden off the shoulders of working parents. The project is available in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung and Yilan.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - Intermarriage between Taiwanese men and young immigrant women has become more frequent in the past few years. Most of the women come from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and mainland China. I remember that last week we reported on a primary school in Keelong. At one point, the teacher asked the 30 or so children "How many of you have a Vietnamese mother?" Eighteen children raised their hand right away.

For immigrant families that remain in the cities during the summertime, it is often hard to reconcile the children's summer break with the rest of the school year. Support courses are often very expensive, especially for families with more than one child. For those who need language lessons, like immigrant children, the situation is even more complicated.

In Hsinchu, municipal authorities set up a vocational centre for the arts in an old railway building where children can learn to work with wood and glass under the supervision of masters of the trade.

The work by the Good Shepherd Social Welfare Services ("Shanmujijinhui善牧基金會") is also impressive. In the last four years, the NGO, which is linked to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, extended its summer activities for children to a month.

The Good Shepherd Services began its operations in Taipei and Kaohsiung in 2003. Now they can be found in Taichung and Yilan as well. Its goal is to better integrate new immigrants into the fabric of local society.

For the Sisters of the God Shepherd, it is also important that children learn about the culture of their mothers' native countries. For this reason each week, mothers take turns to present special things about their country of origin to the children.

Children activities are divided in three parts: summer school work, music lessons and theatre. For older children, there is also a possibility of helping senior citizens.

About 30 children are in the care of the Good Shepherd Social Welfare Services at each of their locations, in Taipei there are four such groups.

This year, hearing impaired children and children with communication skills problems received special care.

The most important thing in any event is to give every child, even those with only one parent, a sense of full acceptance.

The Good Shepherd's summer mission is best defined by the motto: "Only through love can the impossible be achieved" (wei ai wan cheng yi qie 唯愛完成一切).

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