TAIPEI (CNA) — The Taipei-based Garden of Hope Foundation urged the government Sunday to provide inter-agency support to a new migrant assistance center, as some migrants, such as migrant workers and foreign students, face difficulties while in Taiwan.
The non-governmental organization devoted to providing assistance to the socially disadvantaged opened the migrant assistance center that same day.
Center director Kaili Lee (李凱莉) told the press that the new facility was established to provide counseling and information on migrants’ legal rights when they encounter problems.
The center will also work on migrant empowerment and international exchanges and transform itself into a platform to promote understanding between mainstream Taiwanese society and migrants, Lee said.
She expressed hope that the government will provide support for the new center with services from the relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Education and the National Immigration Agency.
The Garden of Hope Foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit group established in 1988 to help disadvantaged girls and young women, especially girls caught in the sex industry, survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence, and survivors of human trafficking.
From one halfway house, its services have grown to include shelters and service centers nationwide, providing everything from counseling and temporary housing to employment training, social work and legal aid, according to the foundation.
At the Sunday’s press conference, Lee said that even though the government expects employers to provide at least two days leave per month for migrant workers, in reality, they usually have to endure harsh working conditions, including salary deductions if they take days off.
At present, many migrants handle their problems based on advice from friends, which may not be completely accurate or useful, Lee noted.
Several migrant workers shared their plights in Taiwan at the press event.
A-Tao, a 40-year old Vietnamese migrant worker who came to Taiwan in 2017, claimed that her employer required her to do housework, even though she was hired as a caretaker for an elderly person in the family she worked for.
Melody, a Filipino migrant worker who has been working in Taiwan for 10 years, said she had no regular leave during her first eight years in Taiwan when she worked for her first employer and was monitored by the family’s driver whenever she went out during rare rest days.
At her second job, Melody was not allowed to rest, as she was tasked with tending two elderly people at the same time in a hospital around the clock.
This prompted her to seek settlement at the migrant protection department of the New Taipei City government, Melody recalled.
A single mother, Melody now has a new employer who she said has treated her well, giving her the strength to carry on, she said.
By Chen Wei-ting and Emerson Lim