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Altruistic locals join Indonesian Independence Day's celebrations

2018/08/19 21:43:18

Taipei, Aug. 19 (CNA) Hundreds of Indonesians celebrated the 73rd anniversary of their country's independence, Sunday in Taipei, joined by locals who highlighted some of the services they have been providing for migrant workers.

Indonesia Representative to Taiwan Robert James Bintaryo said he was pleased to see the involvement of Taiwanese communities in the event, which celebrated Indonesia's independence from Dutch rule on August 17, 1945.

The celebrations started with a colorful parade from Taipei Main Station to National Taiwan Museum, where Indonesian expatriates held aloft their country's red-and-white flag and sang their national anthem.

Throughout the day, there were performances of traditional Indonesian music and dance, while art, craft and food from the country were on display at stalls around the plaza.

In addition, there were some presentations by a number of Taiwanese groups that have been providing volunteer services for migrant workers from Southeast Asia.

Of the local groups, Rumahku, established by medical students from the National Defense Medical Center, seeks to help "make Taiwan a better place for migrant workers to live and work in."

That includes their work in the healthcare sector, said Jason Liu (劉傑生), a member of Rumahku, which means "my home."

(Jason Liu, right)

The mission of Rumahku is to advocate for a more migrant-friendly environment in Taiwan, particularly in the area of healthcare, Liu told CNA.

He said many migrant workers spend a lot of time in hospitals taking care of patients "but the needs of the migrant caregivers tend to be ignored." For example, Liu said, most hospitals in Taiwan do not have prayer rooms, neither do they offer foreign language support.

He said migrant caregivers should also have better working conditions, including regular weekly days off.

Eka, a caregiver who has been teaching the members of Rumahku Indonesian, said language support would be of great help to newcomer migrant workers in that field.

"We had learned basic Mandarin before we came," she said. "But in my case, I still have to rely on the help of fellow Indonesian caretakers who have worked here longer than me to better communicate with the nurses."

Meanwhile, Chang Cheng (張正), the owner of a bookstore that helped organize the celebrations, said the migrant workforce in Taiwan has helped sustain the society, while their culture has enriched the lives of the local people.

Chang's independent bookstore, Brilliant Time, specializes in books on South Asia. Another participant, who volunteers his time and resources to make books available to migrant workers, said he has travelled to Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia to obtain titles.

Lin Chun (林群) uses his truck to deliver books to migrants in villages in Yilan County, Taitung County, Taichung City and elsewhere. His service, dubbed the "Don Quixote Mobile Book House," started with the delivery of English-language books to children in remote areas, he said.

Lin, who works closely with Chang to obtain foreign-language titles, said the idea was a spinoff from Chang's efforts. For years, Chang has been taking two big suitcases of books on Sundays to Taipei Main station, where many migrant workers spend their day-off, Lin said.

He said he hopes his volunteer efforts would help spur similar actions among other Taiwanese.

"I hope that it would facilitate a change of negative stereotypes among Taiwanese about immigrants and migrant workers from Southeast Asia," Lin said. "We should form positive opinions of them and be grateful for their contributions."

(Lin chun, middle)

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)