The people I accompany

Ahead of the United Nations World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30th July, Columban Lay Missionary Joan Yap describes her ministry as a shelter supervisor at the Hope Workers’ Center in Taiwan which houses victims of labour trafficking.

I work as a shelter supervisor at the Hope Workers’ Center in Taiwan, and I can say that I enjoy the work. Every day I facilitate activities for the residents in the shelter while waiting for their case or new employers. These activities help them lift up their spirits and encourage camaraderie among them.

Most of our residents are victims of labour trafficking. They came to Taiwan as factory workers but ended up working as domestic helpers. Others came here as caregivers, but their employer abused them by giving them other work that is not covered in their contract as caregivers.

My role is quite challenging because I am dealing with four different nationalities and cultures – Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Communication is one of the major challenges since most of them don’t speak English or Mandarin. It takes a lot of patience to be able to listen and communicate with them, but I enjoy their company. I may not fully understand them but the best that I can do for them is be there for them as someone who listens and help ease their situation. I find myself learning and accepting of our differences and unique backgrounds.