A photography exhibition documenting the implementation of senior foster care centers at aboriginal communities across Taiwan will take place at the National Chi Nan University from Oct. 24 through Nov. 7. Curated by students, “Long Shadows: Family Foster Care in Indigenous Communities” hopes to raise awareness over what it takes to support the elderly in rural hometowns.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare has been seeking to improve the quality of senior care across the nation in recent years. For rural areas especially, the MOHW is advocating a form of community daycare staffed by local residents who are well-versed in native dialect, culture, and lifestyle.
Three mountainous villages in Nantou County — Huzhu and Nanfeng in Ren’ai Township, and Luona in Xinyi Township — have begun such operations to secure the inheritance of indigenous heritage and fulfill the elderly’s hopes of “growing old at home.” This photography exhibition aims to capture not only the daily operations of these centers, but also preserve the precious memories of the tribal elders entrusted to their care.
Chang Chih-kai, an NCNU graduate who volunteers as a social worker, began working in 2016 with Luobo Nomin from Nanfeng Village, Dumun Bihau from the Qingliu Tribe close by Huzhu Village, and Takislinan Salong from Luona Village to recall and share the important moments from the lives of those who now require foster care.
The resulting photographic and oral documentation were then curated into the “Long Shadows” exhibition by a 30-member NCNU group led by students Lin Che-ying, Ke Hsuan-hsuan, and Ibi Nangavulan. The student volunteers also designed a large installation in the shape of a ship to represent how tribal culture and memories will continue to sail into the future. Reminiscent of origami paper cranes, over 2,000 smaller ships were then used to decorate the exhibition venue.
The two-week exhibition aims to showcase the wisdom of Taiwan’s tribal elders, advocate for the establishment of more community-operated foster care programs, and encourage visitors to learn more from their seniors by asking thoughtful questions and valuing their accomplishments.
“Long Shadows: Family Foster Care in Indigenous Communities” is made possible with help from the NCNU Indigenous Students Resource Center and the Quixotic Implement Foundation, a Nantou-based outreach group that cares for elderly, handicapped, and disadvantaged members of society.