Cihek I-may, Hualian District Director (with her staff) celebrating 30 years of Good Shepherd in Taiwan with Sr. Augustina Chen on 9 September, 2018
In 1987, when the Taiwanese government discovered that underage girls were being exploited by commercial prostitution businesses, it found that the majority of the girls were from aboriginal tribes.
To address the underage prostitution issue, Good Shepherd Sisters were invited to Taiwan to take care of girls and present a potential solution. Sister Therese Thong with a local priest visited the settlement of the indigenous tribes. The investigators learned from the tribe chief and elders that they had noticed during the summer some girls would leave the tribe. The tribal elders hypothesized that the girls left for work in the city, so were unconcerned. However, once they learned that some of their girls were working as prostitutes, they became increasingly concerned.
As a community they felt the most impactful service Good Shepherd could provide was preventative measures. Good Shepherd started running youth camps for members of the indigenous tribes, teaching the young members about health, safety, and education on how to protect themselves from abuse, while bringing awareness to the issue of being sold.
Good Shepherd Services took a deeper look into the root issues of this problem. The Sisters found that the indigenous community as a whole was struggling to operate sustainably. The tribe struggled to run sustainable businesses, alcoholism was prevalent within the culture, and among the community there was a shared sense that the community had lost sight of their original values and culture. The Good Shepherd started to run leadership camps for the adults in the tribe with the intention of helping the tribes to be resilient and value their beautiful culture.
In 1996, when the government dedicated a budget to contract NGOs to set up family service centers within rural areas, the chief and elders of the indigenous tribe travelled to Taipei to ask Sister Thong to lead the family service center in their area. Good Shepherd accepted the invitation and has been managing the service center there for over two decades.
Today Good Shepherd operates three Family and Women Service Centers: Hualian Guangfu, Hualian Rueisuei, Hualian Yuli, and one Children's Home. These three indigenous Family and Women Service Centers provide services for indigenous women and children in the areas of schoolwork counseling, parenthood education and activities that support constructive relations between parents and children.
Good Shepherd visits indigenous tribes to support disadvantaged families work through interpersonal problems, enhance family relationships, and unify local resources to build resilient community networks.
Moreover, Good Shepherd provides emergency assistance and house calls, especially to households with children and youths.
Finally, one Children's Home started in 2006 to assist families who encounter children with insufficient care in order to protect the abused and/or neglected children, so as to promote the normal development of children's physical and mental health and reduce the occurrence of social problems.