Taiwan Church News
26 December 2016 – 1 January 2017
PCT Pays Condolence To The Families Of The Victims In Taoyuan Scaffolding Collapse And Urges More Pastoral Ministries For Urban Aborigines
Reported by Lin Yi-yin
On December 21, during the engineering process of cement pouring, an unexpected scaffolding collapse occurred to a library construction site at Taoyuan Dasi Senior High School. Five workers were killed under tons of collapsed scaffolding materials and several others injured. According to a preliminary finding, this deadly accident might be caused by a weak scaffolding, warned in advance by the site workers, being unable to support the top-story structure during cement pouring.
As two of the five killed workers, Mr Liao Chung-jen and Mrs Huang Hsiu-mei, were confirmed as a couple of Amis aboriginal from the Duli tribe of Pintung, Rev Omi Wilang, secretary of PCT Indigenous Mission Committee, and Rev Lin Wei-lien, secretary of Church and Society Committee, both went to Chungli Mortuary Service Office on December 27 to pay their heartfelt condolence to the families of the victims.
In the past 20 years, the victimized couple made their livings via plastering or frame-working at construction sites among the cities at northern Taiwan. Though their two young boys, playing for school baseball team at Linluo Junior High School in southern Taiwan, studied and lived in a far distance away from their working parents, the whole family was still strenuously connected in a hard working spirit shown in each member. But, this tragic accident not only shocked Taiwan society but also changed everything for these two boys!
Except that Taoyuan City Government and New Taipei City Government pledged to take care of the medical and welfare demands of these victimized workers and their families, this accident also made manifest the importance and urgency of the pastoral ministry for the urban aborigines.
Based on a population census, till the end of November in 2016, conducted by the Council of Indigenous Peoples under Taiwan’s central government, there were totally 552, 687 indigenous people in Taiwan. In a deeper demographic analysis of the aboriginal population, the actual number of urban aborigines, which means the aboriginal inhabited in urban cities, reaches a figure of 256,755(46.46%) people; the figure of aboriginal population in traditional mountain tribes is 163,515(29.59%), and the aboriginal figure in rural or plain tribes is 132,417(23.96%).
On the other hand, a PCT census of church members, up to the end of 2013, shows that there were 253,311 PCT members across the island consisting of 69,549(27.45%) aboriginal members. But, comparing to the fact that there are 419 aboriginal churches serving the mountain tribes and 94 churches serving the rural and plain tribes, there are only four urban aboriginal churches existed at present with a vision to serve a indigenous population of 256,755 people! A mission impossible, isn’t it?!
According to Rev ‘Eleng Tjaljimaraw, Associate General Secretary of PCT General Assembly Office, there were actually quite a lot of aboriginal workers also lost their lives at construction site, just like the victimized couple at Taoyuan, but most of them usually cast as a common or individual event in the media. In addition, pastoral care for the urban aborigines was obviously not enough, observed Rev ‘Eleng Tjaljimaraw, adding that PCT were increasingly lost contact of urban aborigines due to two major factors: either they were not accustomed to the work and faith of urban PCT church or they were attracted to other denominations.
In order to strengthen the pastoral ministry for urban aborigines, the Indigenous Mission Committee reiterate the current pastoral framework of “The Project of Companion and Co-operation In Urban Mission”, encouraging each PCT aboriginal presbytery to work closely with kinds of urban PCT church to care for urban aborigines or plant an exclusive urban aboriginal church. Currently, there were already four aboriginal presbyteries operated in this urban mission project. From 2017, four more aboriginal presbyteries, Tayal, Taroko, Tso, and Pinuyumayan, will join into this project, said Rev Omi Wilang.
Translated by Peter Wolfe
Sister-in-law of the victims in Taoyuan scaffolding collapse, the Amis aboriginal couple of Mr Liao Chung-jen and Mrs Huang Hsiu-mei, was solemnly paid in a condolence and financially supported with a NT$ 30,000 offering by Rev Omi Wilang, secretary of PCT Indigenous Mission Committee, and Rev Lin Wei-lien, secretary of Church and Society Committee, at Chungli Mortuary Service Office on 27 December, 2016.
Photo by Lin Yi-yin