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Creating hope for the elderly and their family members in Taiwan

Drumming practice, shown here, is one of the many activities offered for elderly and disabled clients at the Sisters of Providence Miracle Home ministry in Taishan County, Taiwan.

Miracle Home, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Providence, is a vibrant example of the Sisters of Providence growing into the future of our ministry in Asia. Miracle Home was founded in 2000 in Taishan County, Taiwan. It was created to respond to an urgent unmet need – caring for the aging society of Taiwan.

A great respect for the elderly is deeply rooted in the Taiwanese culture. Yet Sister Delan Ma, SP, founder of Miracle Home, realized that there were increasing numbers of elderly people who had no one to care for them. Additionally, as the population was aging, families who were caring for their beloved elderly were worn out, trying to tend to the needs of their aged parents, grandparents, and in-laws. It was taking a toll on the family unit.

The beginnings

Initially, Sister Delan offered volunteer service through the government of Taishan County, visiting the elderly, particularly those living alone or on low incomes. Next, she gathered other volunteers to help. She then opened the convent doors and invited the elderly to come there for leisure activities and classes. Thus, Miracle Home was born. As some clients got older and were no longer able to go to the convent, she began to hire nurses, social workers, and caregivers to create a homecare program. She also began providing “Meals on Wheels” and opened a daycare program for those with cognitive changes and disabilities.

Outdoor games is one of the many life-giving activities offered for elders at the Miracle Home ministry in Taiwan.

Miracle Home strives to improve the quality of life for clients and their families. Rooted in the religious spirit of love and trust in Divine Providence, their mission is to love God and love people and to extend God’s love, mercy, and justice in the world, through respect and care for the elderly and disabled (particularly the underprivileged), by tending to their physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Growth to meet needs

Over the years, what began as a small operation serving about 30 clients has grown exponentially. In 2003 space at the convent was expanded to help meet an ever-increasing demand.

Gardening class for elders.

In 2013 Sister Rose Chiu, SP, inherited the good work that Sister Delan had begun. In the years Sister Rose has served as director, through her extraordinary vision and planning, the program (and space required to serve the people) have continued to grow. An elevator was installed. Last year the sisters graciously turned over a significant portion of their living quarters so that there would be adequate space to create a large activities room. Miracle Home has also opened a coffee shop to provide a restful space for the elderly, caregivers, and family members who care for the elderly.

Many ways to serve

Outdoor games for elders.

Today, through collaboration with county and township governments, their services include homecare services, respite care, Meals on Wheels, daycare services, and community services for the elderly and those with disabilities. In 2017, the staff of social workers, nurses and caregivers provided 53,220 hours of homecare for approximately 275 elderly and/or disabled persons. Additionally, they provided respite care service to 87 people for over 27,670 hours. Over 50 clients received Meals on Wheels. Late in 2017, recently professed Sister Anna Fan, SP, returned to Taiwan to assist in the ministry.

In addition to the home care services, and because of the physical expansion of the facility, on-site daycare services were provided for about 60 clients, including elderly and those with cognitive changes. The daycare offers a variety of services, including assistance with eating, toileting, walking, taking medications and transportation. The abundance of activities ensures those in attendance receive both physical and mental stimulation through music, arts and crafts, gardening, cooking and spiritual enrichment. Holiday activities are also a highlight.

Worth the effort

With some help, elders can still cook.

For the clients and families served by Miracle Home, the future is one of hope. Perhaps Sister Rose Chiu expressed it best: “Whenever I see the elderly smiling faces, happy and content in their activities, and improving each day, I feel every ounce of effort was worth of it. When I hear family members say ‘Thank you, my mother is much happier’ or ‘Since my mother-in-law came to this daycare, my family now is more harmonious’ or ‘We find my father is “back” again. He has improved a lot and is more clear in his responses,’ I know it was worth the effort”.

And it’s not just Sister Rose who notices the impact. A court volunteer said to her: “Through my service experience here, I see that Miracle Home is different from outside society. Here I see hope for our society. Thank you.”

To Sister Delan Ma, who began this good work, and to Sisters Rose Chiu and Anna Fan who continue to make it thrive, we say, “Thank you for being the face of love and for growing a hopeful future for the elderly and most vulnerable in Taiwan!”

(Originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp

Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. She currently serves on the Congregation leadership team. Previously she ministered as a teacher and administrator at the secondary and university levels.

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