In the first eight months of this year our students averaged at 67 in our kindergarten program, with fourteen of them being children with special learning needs. Another ten children were in our class for special needs children. That makes a total of 77 children coming here each day. Then we have 39 infants and young children in our early intervention program. That is a total of 116 children that we are helping, an all time record. But that is still not many children considering the number that need to be helped. We have a lot more work to do especially to add to the number of children less than three years of age in our early intervention program.
Recently we held a meeting of our Board of Directors who expressed concern about the need to do more. At the same time it was proposed that we initiate a special outreach program. If we had a van that was equipped with various toys, games, computers and books, we could visit various rural towns in our area. With a small group of teachers and therapists we could hold play sessions for children less than three years of age from place to place, so that more children will have an opportunity to learn from others. We envision that we will have a better opportunity to screen for those children who have a developmental delay, but still are not getting the help they need for various reasons. We must go out to them, and not just wait for them to come to us. In the next few weeks we will make a plan to initiate such a program, and will give you a full report in our next newsletter. Please pray that we will succeed in this new initiative.
With the increase of our students we have added some more staff members, including a social worker, another teacher and a custodian to help with the cleaning and maintenance of our facility. We now have a total of 24 staff members, another all time high. This means we have to have more money each month to pay salaries, a never ending difficulty. In the first seven months of this year 67% of our expenses were salary related. We spent 1.7 million NT more than what we had as income. So you can see that we truly need your help to continue our work with infants and young children with a developmental delay.
Our new social worker, Miss Chen Pei-chi, is taking over direction of this issue and future direction of our newsletter. She has an article about our overnight stay by our recent graduates and a number of pictures for illustration. We have four articles by various teachers, and one by one of our parents. All for interesting reading. Lastly we add the list of our most recent donors. It seems like a lot, but we really need more. Hopefully each one of our readers will find a friend or relative who will help with our monthly income. Each month we have $56,000 NT donated by friend’s credit cards, while a few other people send us $6,300 NT from their Post Office accounts. We depend a great deal on this type of income, as we know it will come in each and every month. Hopefully by the end of this year, we can have more and more donors using their credit cards or Post Office accounts to help us each and every month of the year. Please consider this method of helping us. It means a lot.
In May and June of this year, I was fortunate to be able to return home to be with my youngest sister and her husband and twin sons. The two boys graduated from the 8th grade and will soon be going to Senior High School. It seems like only a short time ago that they were born. I also visited some doctors while home, to get a health check up and some new medication.
Most people of my age are already retired, while I am still at work. I tell people that I cannot afford to retire. But Bethlehem Foundation is definitely my last place of employment. In the past 44 years in Taiwan, I was in parish Church work for my first eleven years, one year in the US to study Special Education, more than 16 years directing St. Raphael Opportunity Center. During those 16 years, I was the founder of the Leren Learning Center in Kaohsiung City, the Delan Opportunity Center in Yuching, Tainan County, as well as the founder of the ROC Association for Mentally Handicapped Persons. Then three years in the US with Church work for Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, my sponsoring organization. Lastly I had one year studying Taiwanese, which seems like a lost cause as I still cannot speak the language. Luckily I can understand more than previous. Eleven years ago I came to Hsueh Jia and started the Bethlehem Foundation. In April we celebrated our 10th anniversary. I do not know how much longer I can remain here, but I ask for your prayers and support so that Bethlehem Foundation will be better able to help more and more infants and young children with a developmental delay in an inclusive educational environment.
May God bless each and every one of you with good health and happiness.