【Taiwan Immigrants’ Global News Network】Edited by Raymond Rodriguez
(Taiwan Immigrants’ Global News Network) – Ma Min (馬敏) from Henan (河南) came to Taiwan and has been married to Chen Chia Ching (陳嘉慶) for more than 10 years. She established the Siloam Holistic Care Association (西羅亞全人關懷協會) and has devoted herself to social welfare activities for a long time. She opened a symbiosis home and a non-toxic farm in Fanlu Township, Chiayi County (嘉義縣番路鄉), and helped more than 500 homeless and rehabilitated people in the past ten years. Ma Min, who was originally involved in supplementary education, made use of her educational background, and took the initiative to assist new immigrants and schoolchildren from disadvantaged families with after-school tutoring classes. Ma Min's selfless dedication also touched many new immigrants' sisters to participate in charity activities while they are busy with farming.
Ma Min makes desserts with the new immigrant mothers and children (Photo∕ Siloam Ecological Farm Facebook)
Ma Min graduated from university and worked in supplementary education in Shenzhen (深圳). By destiny, she was introduced to the Christian faith when she opened an after-school tutoring class and met other young people with the same ideals. In addition to participating in religious ceremonies, she was active with social welfare. During this time, she met the founder of the Hebron Symbiosis Home (希伯崙共生家園) from Taiwan, and through the sharing of pastors, she began to participate in public welfare activities such as organic farms, and service work to help the disadvantaged.
Ma Min teaches the children about ecology in Yu Wen (Photo∕Siloam Ecological Farm Facebook)
Also because of her connection with the symbiosis home, Ma Min got to know Chen Chia Ching, who was also building a symbiosis home in Taiwan. Both have the same idea and after more than a year of long-distance communication, Ma Min was moved by this kind of loving spirit. Inclusion is regardless of type and relying on symbiosis and mutual benefit, she also understands that this is her goal in life.
Although she agrees with Chen Chia Ching’s philosophy and spirit, the two have also seriously considered the issue of marriage, but there are still many practical problems, like her need to adapt to a new and unfamiliar environment when she goes to Taiwan to marry. While Ma Min was still considering whether to continue this long-distance relationship, the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan, China occurred. Many non-governmental organizations invested manpower and material resources to assist the disaster relief work. Ma Min and Chen Chia Ching also went to the disaster area to serve as volunteers. After working together for more than a month, Ma Min got to know Chia Ching more and her blueprint for her future became clearer. Ma Min decided to sell her profitable tutoring school. With her savings, she bravely decided to go to Taiwan to marry and work with her partner Chen Chia Ching and they established the "Siloam Holistic Care Association".
Siloam Holistic Care Association is also committed to parent-child interactions among new immigrant families (Photo provided by Ma Min)
Before Ma Min came to Taiwan, Chen Chia Ching had already built a symbiosis home on the land left by his father near the Ba Chang Creek, housing homeless people, rehabilitated people, drug users, alcoholics, and other disadvantaged people for more than two years. Ma Min, who grew up in a first-class city in mainland China, came and got married in Taiwan and lived in a mountainous area that is even more remote than her own hometown in Henan. When she needed to buy vegetables, her husband had to drive her for half an hour to Chiayi city. This big difference and inconvenience also made Ma Min doubt whether her decision to come to Taiwan was correct.
It is also because of the same beliefs with her husband and their common principle of helping the disadvantaged helped Ma Min decide to continue. In the past ten years, Ma Min and her husband Chen Chia Ching’s symbiosis home has counseled more than 500 different cases. Ma Min said that alcoholics, drug users, homeless people or even strangers are considered potentially dangerous by society but through companionship and living together, they guide them to be self-reliant to help them go through the most difficult moments of their lives. The symbiosis home is always open to provide them with a haven in life.
Siloam Care Association
Ma Min and her husband devoted all their energy to the symbiosis home, guiding the "family members" living there to grow organic fruits and vegetables, raise chickens and ducks, and to create a self-sufficient and income-generating garden. When Ma Min’s child went to kindergarten, she began to interact more with other parents. At this time, she discovered that there were also many new immigrants living in this area who married to Taiwan from other countries just like her. Because of poor financial status or because they were busy farming, they were unable to work, do housework and take care of their children. In the rural villages, there are also some elders’ misunderstandings and biases, making the new immigrant sisters who married to Taiwan feel helpless and aggrieved.
Ma Min is even more empathetic to the new immigrants who are married to Taiwanese. So, in recent years, Ma Min decided to focus her service to care for the new immigrants and their children in remote areas. They invite the new immigrant sisters to join the work in the organic farm, provide companionship and teach self-sufficient economic support, and together they built a symbiosis home, and further allow them to adjust their ideas and mentality to help them balance between work and family.
Ma Min cooks together with the new immigrant mothers and children (Photo∕Provided by Ma Min)
Earlier this year, Ma Min also took the new immigrant sisters to participate in the National Immigration Agency’s (NIA, 移民署) "Dream Building Project for New Immigrants and Children (新住民及子女築夢計畫)" and have the opportunity to promote environmentally friendly farming and food farmers education. The new immigrant sisters who work in farms have learned to use non-toxic production methods to grow crops to create added value and add more sales channels.
In addition, Ma Min also actively promotes food and farming education for new immigrants and their children, emphasizing actual "hands-on" education, allowing new immigrant sisters to bring their children to farm and grow vegetables, so that children can learn about ecology and farming and have fun. In Siloam symbiosis home, there is a tutoring class after school on weekdays. The children who have finished their homework will also help with the work on the farm. On weekends, there will be new immigrant mothers and friends with the same ideas who come here to cook and participate in activities. Ma Min said that with the dishes prepared by new immigrant mothers from different countries, everyone can eat delicious exotic dishes every day. In this homeland of co-existence of nature and care, it is truly a haven full of love and care.