Caring for Migrant Workers
Throughout the island of Taiwan, there are 5 detention centers with approximately 200 migrant workers housed in each one. Many of the workers are victims of exploitation and various kinds of abuse by brokerage agencies and employers. As a result, they willfully leave contracted jobs and find work elsewhere. Sooner or later, they get caught and are transferred to detention centers. They stay there for about 4 months while waiting for their legal documents to be recovered, and then they return to their home countries.
The Christian and Missionary Alliance goes into the detention centers to evangelize, counsel, and care for the migrant workers' basic needs. As the laborers stay at the shelter and wait for offers on new jobs, they have no source of income. The grant we have given to the Taiwan Labor Concern program enables the migrant workers to have sandals, soap bars, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, coffee, tea, snacks, weekly meals, telephone cards, and ferry and subway tickets. As care is shown to them in practical ways, these hurting workers have responded in attending weekly activities and church meetings.
There are two main events per week. One event is an outdoor activity. The other is an indoor meeting, which is a church service. On average, 6 workers attend each event, and we usually have them for 3 months at the shelter until they find new jobs. These activities nourish them spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Suffering from Employee Mistreatment
Workers come to the shelter because they are mistreated by employers and brokers. For example, caregivers for elders and children work long hours each day, and most have no days off. Some are abused by employers and don't get paid enough. Others are arranged to work in illegal and immoral places against their own will. Those who work for factories and companies don't get overtime hours paid. And there are those whose legal documents and belongings are confiscated by employment brokers, and they are threatened to be beaten.
As their lives are taken advantage of, these laborers are troubled and confused. Our activities are designed to shine love and hope into their lives. They are encouraged to know that we care for them and that God loves them dearly.
Hoa arrived at the shelter upset and disappointed. He paid more than $5,000 USD for placement fees in order to come and work in Taiwan. However, instead of working in a factory as was contracted, he was assigned to climb coconut trees to pick coconuts. After doing this for 4 months, he couldn't take it any longer. He reported his case to the labor bureau, which helped him get out of that hardship. Finally, Hoa came and stayed at the shelter. Though he attended our activities, Hoa was quiet and very unapproachable. He stayed at the shelter more than 4 months but still didn't find a suitable job. During this time, we still cared for him. Finally, he found a job. On the day he was leaving the shelter, we picked him up and drove him to the train station, where he rode the train to the new workplace. We followed up with Hoa through phone calls and messaging, as we do with anyone we can. During the lunar new year in 2016, he called to wish us blessings. In that phone call, he said he's very thankful for our love and care shown to him during the time at the shelter. He also shared that God is the one he calls first for help.
As of April 2016, things have changed after a new commander of two centers closed down the ministry visits. Please pray that these centers would be once again reopened.
Please pray for migrant workers to soon be allocated new jobs: Chinh, Long, Sheryl, Kora, Lizelle, Tư and Ly. The 4-month period at the shelter is almost up. If no work becomes available, they will be deported back to the Philippines and Vietnam and lose a big advance fees to brokers. (Typically, a Vietnamese migrant worker pays an an average advance fee of $6,300 USD. Many borrow money. It usually takes roughly an 18-month salary out of a 36-month contract to pay off the debt if everything goes well.) If they leave Taiwan, these poor people not only forfeit their money, but they also lose many months of hard labor.
Thanks for your prayers and support!
Read about the life-changing stories on the mission field.