Life is a challenge to all, and especially to those who are not mentally perfect, such as those who have Down Syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). Normal people would generally shun them, and they are the forgotten bunch in society. Furthermore, they are viewed as long-term burdens to their family and caretakers. According to Citibank Taiwan, approximately 2% of all kids are mentally challenged.
In 1995, a few parents of some of the mentally challenged children established the Children Are Us Foundation. Through these parents, social workers, and government subsidies, these mentally challenged children were trained from being taken care of to contributing as members of society. Some of them have obtained a bakery license, and others have performed social work. They earn their own living, instead of relying on others, and that boosts their self-esteem. The foundation further supports them to form music bands and perform stage plays to make their lives more colorful. CAU sets aside a portion of their income and donates it to other needy groups. Some examples include: children that live in the rural area, orphanages, and lonely elders without care. Not only do they stand on their own feet, they help others, which is worthy of recognition.
This past summer, World Love Organization visited them. We first had a meal at the restaurant and then, Ms. Woo, a CAU representative, led a tour about it. There are sixteen workers in the restaurant; twelve are mentally challenged. Those twelve work in the kitchen and wait tables. Upon entering the restaurants, we were attracted instantly by their genuine, loving smiles. We were warmly greeted and led to our table, which was elegantly decorated. The napkins were folded in a certain way, and one could tell that the mentally challenged practiced numerous of times with lots of effort to fold the napkins properly. The tables were numbered to make the waiting more convenient. Although they sometimes struggle to answer my questions promptly and slow to wait tables, we were deeply moved by their positive work attitude and commitment.
We were in the baking factory as volunteers working next to the mentally challenged. That made me understand what the working environment was like – a happy one. There are three sections in the factory: production, manufacturing, and boxing. When we arrived at the factory, they were curious and excited. There was one employee, who spoke with clarity, talked to us about a TV series that she was watching; she kept going on about it nonstop, and it was hard to reply back to her. There was another one named Anna, who could briefly introduce herself in English, and she could competently complete her work, but she could not count numbers. But what was more surprising is that the next time we met her, she did not remember us. At work, some would randomly laugh at loud uncontrollably and make strange sounds while others would run all over the room because they had a short attention span. However, under the social workers’ caring patience, all of them were able to complete their tasks.
This was a memorable and unique volunteer tour. When God created these little angels, it seems that he had put the wrong parts on them, so they lost their ability to fly freely. But they are good-natured, innocent, and not vain. As long as they are physically-abled, they are unafraid of challenge. They learn to do things through repetition, and hopefully, they can be independent and help others in the future. This is a grateful action of them, and society can emulate their hard-working spirit. We wish them the best of luck, and hope that they happily and bravely embrace their life ahead.
If you have a chance to visit Taiwan, you should go to the SeFun Café, which is located in Taipei, Hsinchu, or Kaohsiung. You can also go to their bakery to buy their hand-made baked treats. Their hard work at the restaurant and bakery will certainly pull your heartstrings.