By Betty Ho, CEO of Taiwan Fund for Children and Families
To commemorate ChildFund’s 75th anniversary, we invited the leaders of each of the 12 ChildFund Alliance member groups to reflect on the past and future of their own organizations and the Alliance. Today, we hear from Taiwan.
To help homeless Chinese children after the Sino-Japanese war, Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke, a Presbyterian minister, established the China’s Children Fund in 1938 in Richmond, Va., which would later become Christian Children’s Fund. CCF began assisting orphans, children and families in Taiwan in 1950, bringing nutritional, health and educational services to an impoverished population. In 1964, the CCF Taiwan field office was formally established, and 23 Family Helper Projects were set up to provide services to children and families in need.
In 1985, Chinese Children’s Fund/Taiwan became fully independent from Christian Children’s Fund after the eight-year Self-Reliant Plan implemented by our CEO, Charles Kuo. Two years later, CCF/Taiwan started to provide sponsorships for children in foreign countries, and in Taiwan, we started our Child Protection Program.
In 2002, we changed our name to Taiwan Fund for Children and Families. TFCF is a nonprofit organization entrusted by the government and supported by the public for more than 63 years, when Christian Children’s Fund entered the country. In the early 2000s, we also recognized that it was time for TFCF to extend a helping hand to children in need outside of Taiwan. We established a branch office in Mongolia in 2004, and the Kyrgyzstan and Swaziland branch offices were respectively established in 2012 and 2013. We also cooperated with local nongovernmental organizations to provide community programs in 2011 in China’s Shaan Xi Province.
Here’s an overview of TFCF’s programs:
Domestic Children Sponsorship
Supporting children in need is our commitment to society. This program applies the sponsorship system to provide children from low-income families with monthly subsidies and opportunities to continue their education. The program also aims to empower sponsored children and their families to pursue their independence. Over the past 63 years, we have helped 180,243 children become self-reliant.
Foreign Children Sponsorship
We aim to assist foreign children and families in need through our collaboration with the ChildFund Alliance. Projects and programs have been designed with a focus on children’s needs, such as the nurturing, medication, academic assistance and vocational training. TFCF also cares about establishing a functional and constructive community to effectively help local residents.
Child Protection Program
This program is designated to help children who have suffered physical, sexual or mental abuse or were seriously neglected. We have provided these children with rehabilitation and placement services since 1988. To raise public awareness and provide education on child protection issues, we set up the first Child Protection Resource Center in Taiwan in April 1998.
Early Intervention Program
To better assist developmentally delayed children or those living with other disabilities, we started the Early Intervention Program in 1996 to provide counseling, day care, referrals and other resources for affected families.
Foster Care Program
We initiated our foster care program in 1983, a program offered to children who are abused or unable to be cared for by their families.
Our dream is for all children to live in a happy and sound environment, and we are pleased to join with the ChildFund Alliance to be a global force for children in need.
by Anne Lynam Goddard, ChildFund President and CEO
As dollars flow from developed nations to developing nations, the question often comes up: Does international aid really work?
I can give you an example of where it really has made a world of difference.
Recently I visited Taiwan to participate in the 60th anniversary celebration of Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF). ChildFund (then Christian Children’s Fund) began assisting orphans, children and families in Taiwan in 1950, bringing nutritional, health and educational services to an impoverished population.
With this life-sustaining support, Taiwan’s children began to thrive. In 1985, TFCF became an independent child sponsorship organization. ChildFund had helped for 35 years; yet, more important, we left behind this wonderful capacity. By 1987, TFCF was ready to give back to the world, and Taiwanese citizens began sponsoring children internationally. This compassion has spread to 34 countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas, helping more than 67,000 children along the way. Today TFCF is a member of the ChildFund Alliance, working in full partnership with ChildFund International and 10 other countries to assist vulnerable children globally.
Within its own country, TFCF continues to do terrific work — from introducing the foster care concept to developing state-of-the-art programs for special needs children, including a light therapy program.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who met with TFCF and ChildFund Alliance members to help celebrate TFCF’s anniversary, noted that TFCF is the oldest and likely the most effective social welfare organization caring for children in Taiwan. In fact, the president is a child sponsor and has sponsored 10 children through the years. He’s especially proud that close to 1 percent of Taiwan’s population is now sponsoring children.
President Ma pointed out that TFCF’s success story mirrors Taiwan’s rise as a nation. In the 1950s, the country was on the receiving end of aid provided by foreign governments and other public- and private-sector entities. At that time, President Ma said, the average annual income per person was $100. By 1965, Taiwan no longer needed international aid as it grew its own economy and expanded its exports. Today the average Taiwanese citizen earns $15,000.
International development has paid off — it’s worked. Taiwan’s foreign policy focus on humanitarian assistance is one means of giving back while extending the nation’s standing in the world community.
At one of the anniversary events, we heard from a former sponsored child. His father had died; his mother had no education, and she had four children to feed. A sponsor’s support “changed fate for our family,” he said. Today, this man is a bank manager and a child sponsor. For a banker, return on investment (ROI) is always top of mind, yet he personally believes that the highest ROI that you can get is by focusing on a child and the education of that child.
Child sponsorship played an important role in helping Taiwan get back on its feet.
Sponsorship is an investment in the capacity of people. That’s our focus at ChildFund — providing the greatest ROI.