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Serving New Immigrants Through a Pandemic in Taipei-Taiwan


Initially, Taiwan did well in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic and successfully contained local transmission. Against this backdrop and with well-thought-out arrangements, Pearl S. Buck Foundation Taiwan Taipei was able to continue home visits, training sessions/activities, and other projects even though larger events were forced to be canceled. In May 2021, however, Taiwan saw a surge in community-based infections, leading to more government restrictions on people’s daily lives. It was a difficult year for everyone in Taiwan, but especially hard for the children served by PSBFTT. They were from economically disadvantaged families of new immigrants, and two-thirds of them came from single-parent households. Their parents, most of whom worked in unskilled manual or service jobs, were hit hard by the lockdown. Many breadwinners faced reduced wages, furloughs, or even unemployment, which led to a plunge in family incomes. Meanwhile, expenses kept rising as families had to pay for face masks, rubbing alcohol, and rapid testing kits, in addition to daily necessities. The economic impact was also felt
by some sponsors or donors, forcing them to reduce their financial contribution. This meant a huge challenge to PSBTT—one that required a change in the usual way and content of work.

Helping Families Cope with Stress

Despite the difficulties, PSBFTT provided regular social worker visits to monitor the physical and mental development of children. This included helping children and parents navigate at-home learning by providing necessary supplies to the students. Because of quarantines and stressors due to the pandemic, social workers often had to provide more mental support and play a facilitating role in improving parent-child communication and family relationships.

Interpreting Services for Immigrant Families

PSBFTT also continued providing health care interpreting services for new immigrants. This became especially important during the pandemic. PSBFTT was able to help the families with completing hospital forms, communicating with health professionals, and understanding medication information, as well as understanding pandemic directives from government officials. This was a great relief to the families due to the language barriers that most faced and they were able to understand the government’s updated health and safety guidelines and rolled out relief programs and stay safe and healthy.

Continued Success Due to Dedicated Supporters

PSBFTT was also successful in overcoming the challenges of donation decreases during the pandemic, finding new corporate sponsors, and implementing safer and easier ways for donors to give,
such as via mobile payment methods.

Over the past 50 years, PSBFTT has held onto its legacy of service to children of cross-cultural relationships and to their families. The past few years of the pandemic,
however, have taught them that to be sustainable and to provide real benefits to those in most need, they have to be flexible and think of new solutions to the ever-evolving issues at hand.

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