President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of November 13 with Chairman Michael Rose of the ChildFund Alliance and high-ranking officials and representatives of ChildFund Alliance affiliates from throughout the world. In addition to welcoming the delegation in his capacity as an "old friend" of the ChildFund Alliance, President Ma also praised the Alliance and its Taiwan affiliate, the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF), for their long-term efforts to provide assistance to children in need.
In remarks, the president stated that the ChildFund Alliance was formally established in 2002, and is a global alliance of 12 organizations. ChildFund International (USA) began providing assistance to orphaned and impoverished children in war-torn China after its establishment in 1938, the second year of the eight-year War of Resistance against Japan, he said. Over the years, the ChildFund Alliance has fought to safeguard the welfare of children throughout the world and improve the lives of underprivileged children, he added. The organization has provided assistance to some 13 million underprivileged children in 55 nations, and the president said he deeply admires the work carried out under the ChildFund banner.
President Ma pointed out that the TFCF was one of the founding members of the ChildFund Alliance and in 1950 it began promoting children's welfare in Taiwan. The organization embraces the philosophy of providing timely assistance, warm concern, Christian compassion, and specialized social work, he stated. The TFCF has 23 chapters throughout Taiwan, the president stated, as well as 31 service centers in remote areas. In addition, it has set up 13 institutions for the physically and mentally challenged, and shelters for youth, as well as the Ta-Tung Children's Home in New Taipei City. The TFCF thus very clearly has a large-scale operation in Taiwan, he added.
The president stressed that the TFCF's services include family assistance, scholarships, help in improving nutrition, and coordination with the government in caring for, protecting, and sheltering abused children. President Ma noted that the organization has provided assistance to over 260,000 children from Taiwan and overseas since its founding, and at present is aiding over 110,000 children here and abroad, including children in 38 countries and areas outside of Taiwan. Meanwhile, he said, the TFCF is helping the government draft amendments to Part V ("Succession") of the Civil Code to ensure that children will no longer be forced to assume debts left behind by their parents. This, the president stated, is an important policy objective of his presidency.
President Ma mentioned that the TFCF previously published a book focusing on the stories of 12 persons who have donated money, done voluntary work, or provided financial assistance to specific children. One story is of Mr. Chao Wen-cheng (趙文正) who works as a janitor in a factory and also collects recyclable items in the streets. Mr. Chao has "adopted" 13 underprivileged children in Taiwan and overseas, and over the past 30 years has donated in excess of NT$4 million to the organization to assist these young people, the president said, furthermore noting that this year he was selected by Forbes Magazine as one of Asia's Heroes of Philanthropy. President Ma stated that when he learned of the frugal lifestyle that Mr. Chao lives, on August 18 of this year he specially paid him a visit and presented him with an energy-saving electric fan that was made in Taiwan, partly as an expression of admiration for the charitable work that Mr. Chao has provided, but also to encourage others here to learn from his spirit and to act similarly to spread the seeds of compassion all over the world, the president said.
President Ma furthermore stated that in recent years Taiwan has gradually transformed from an importer of compassionate assistance to an exporter of such aid. For instance, he said, the people of Taiwan have "adopted" over 300,000 underprivileged children, including about 230,000 children overseas. This constitutes 1% of Taiwan's total population, he pointed out. In addition, Taiwan's blood donation rate of 8.13% is the highest in the world, which is another notable achievement. President Ma cited statistics from the Minister of the Interior which show that the public here each year donates in excess of NT$5 billion. This highlights the compassion and generosity of the people of Taiwan, he said, many of whom are willing to live frugally while generously donating their savings to do something for society. The president stated that Taiwan donated a total of about 20 billion yen (about NT$6.6 billion) to Japan after that nation suffered a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year. The donations from Taiwan were the highest from anywhere in the world, he said, which deeply moved the people of Japan. The gesture has won Taiwan praise from around the world for its generosity, which in turn has become an important national asset, he said.
The president stated that he began providing financial assistance to children here and overseas over 10 years ago, and became a member of the fund. He noted that the TFCF no longer needed to receive assistance from the US organization starting in 1985 and has since come to the aid of underprivileged children in Taiwan and overseas on its own. He said he is pleased to see the progress made by the organization here and expressed his hope that even more people will become involved, working together to come to enhance the welfare of children.
ChildFund Alliance Chairman Rose led a delegation of 40 officials and representatives from affiliated organizations in the United States, Korea, Denmark, Japan, Canada, France, Sweden, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Taiwan. The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office in the morning by TFCF Chairman Lin Po-Rung (林柏榕) and Deputy Minister of the Interior Tseng Chung-ming (曾中明) to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Philip Y. M. Yang (楊永明).