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Talk of the Day -- Postmen take care of seniors living alone

2012/09/11 18:44:31

A group of postal workers in a southern Taiwan town do not just send mail to residents; they also send love to senior citizens living alone.

More than 10 postmen and postwomen at the post office of the Xinying District in Tainan City found that more and more seniors are living alone in their service area, so decided to jointly "adopt" 10 of them, visiting them regularly and giving them gifts during the Moon Festival and other annual celebrations.

In spite of their low salaries, these men and women have been chipping in money to buy rice, milk, oatmeal and even adult diapers for these poor and lonely seniors, winning their heartfelt gratitude.

Following is a report by the Liberty Times, one of Taiwan's major dailies, on these postal workers' charity work on behalf of the seniors in their community:

"Grandpa Lin, have you eaten?" That's the way this group of postmen and women say hello to the 84-year-old senior as they bring rice, oatmeal and diapers to his home. Lin is all smiles, as if it were long-time friends who are visiting.

Many of the region's young people have left to work and live in other cities, leaving their seniors home alone, said Wu Mao-pi, one of the postmen involved in the charity drive.

"What happens to them if they get sick?" So he discussed with his colleagues how they could help. Together, they decided to "adopt" 10 seniors in their district.

Wu said that some of the seniors in the area have been having financial difficulties supporting themselves because they are not eligible to pensions due to their ownership of some land.

The land is usually jointly owned by several brothers and hard to divide, leaving the owners not owning anything substantive. Yet their nominal ownership of the land excludes them from the list of eligible senior pension recipients.

"Although we are not well paid," said Wu, "my colleagues and I buy them basic groceries, particularly during festivals."

"It is the smiles on their faces that give us the greatest pleasure," he added.

Over the past 10 years, Wu and his colleagues have regularly visited these and other seniors who have been identified by the local government as impoverished and living alone.

"We chat with them on a wide range of topics," said Wu. "And they tell us that seeing our green uniforms is a great comfort to them. Sometimes they simply cannot stop talking."

Tai Yu-tang, another postman, said he makes an extra effort to visit the seniors on their "adoption list" when he is delivering mail to nearby houses.

"I feel more at ease when I see them doing fine. A sense of unease comes to my mind when, for just one day, I have not seen them," said Tai.

Chen Mei-hsiang, a female colleague of Tai and Wu, said that seeing these seniors makes her realize the importance of maintaining good health.

She said her heart feels heavy when she sees these seniors living alone with no one around to take care of them, and expressed hope that she can do more to help them.

The Xinying postmen and women have also extended their charity work to two disabled seniors living in remote areas in nearby Baihe and Yanshui districts.

They do not just buy groceries for them, but also run such errands as saving and withdrawing money from their savings accounts. The two are obviously gratified with these services, patting them on their shoulders and saying that "with you folks around, I'm really happy."

The Xinying Post Office is now cooperating with the Huashan Social Welfare Foundation to buy 90 tickets for local seniors living alone to allow them to attend a luncheon party in Tainan Sept. 18.

The party, dubbed "With Love from the Moon, Your Happiness Will Never Age," is aimed at celebrating this year's Moon Festival, which falls on Sept. 30. (Sept. 11, 2012)

(By S.C. Chang)