SE in Taiwan
The Call of the Rainbow— Wishing Indigenous Communities a Sustainable Future
By the beautiful Daan River, blue sky and green mountains play together a tranquil and beautiful symphony. A natural disaster might claim people’s homes and property here, yet it cannot take away their will. After the 921 Earthquake, a group of Atayal people gathered to share food and work. They built a common kitchen to support the tribe, and that was the origin of the Taiwan Indigenous Dmavun Development Association.
Weaving Stories About the Tribe
At the common kitchen in Daguan Village, Heping Township, Taichung County, the staff are making lunch boxes and Atayal meals as ordered by their clients. This organization also combines indigenous features with agricultural products, sells traditional handicrafts, and provides cultural activities. The common kitchen offers stable employment for the youngsters in the tribe, and the profit is used for elderly and child care, such as meal delivery services.
Taking care of the elderly and the children is the major social purpose of the common kitchen as well as part of the teaching of Atayal gaga (a core set of rules and taboos passed down through generations).
Lin Jian-chi, the former chairman of the Taiwan Indigenous Dmavun Development Association, indicates that lives in indigenous communities and cities differ greatly. Indigenous lifestyles and viewpoints differ from the mainstream. Sometimes external support may just complicate the whole situation due to misunderstandings. There can be the situation that a？community is forced to accept the support, and the external institution invests a great deal of effort and resources. In the end, however, those resources may be displaced or wasted because no one participates.
Human Resource Development Is the Key
The most important key to success is the development of human resources. Lin holds an open attitude to face unknown challenges and embraces every supportive force. He believes every little piece is capable of providing the power to accomplish the greater good. As long as people work together harmoniously, there can be better results. Then, the tribe can be selfsustaining in the future.
Regarding teamwork, Lin says people in the indigenous community need more time to learn and accept. If people just persist in their own opinions, it can be very difficult for them to work together. Sometimes management does put pressure on the partners. Then, Lin will be patient and wait. He hopes people begin from taking care of themselves, and then they can take care of others. The partners are allowed to leave their posts if they have to take care of their family. People all enjoy working in the kitchen. Some even insist on staying till midnight just to help the Association complete its work.
Lin hopes that the eight hours coming to the common kitchen every day are valuable to the partners. Only when they feel happy in their job can they keep working in it. Then, they move from coping with the business to voluntarily being part of it. They are willing to discover problems and look for solutions. With the attitude of living their lives, they dedicate themselves to work and carry that attitude to influence others.
Culture Is the Most Important Social Capital
For this indigenous community’s common kitchen, culture is the most important social capital. From running the common kitchen and developing relevant services and products to operating a pesticide-free or organic farm, the core values of Atayal culture are always seen as the guiding principles. When combining market trends, step by step, the Association can accumulate impressive results.
Shi Shang-hsuan, who has worked as the project manager of the Multi-Employment Promotion Program for three years, came here due to his longing for Atayal culture. He hoped to employ his marketing and management skills in assisting the tribe. After graduating from graduate school, he chose to work in the mountains. Shi pointed at the shovel jaw carp they were eating and explained its features as well as the reason the Atayal people call it “a real fish.”.
Shi was deeply impressed when working at the common kitchen. He saw a middle-aged woman sitting in front of the computer and searching in a dictionary page by page just to complete her office work. To Shi, the common kitchen is suitable for the lifestyle of the Atayal people. People get to share work here. They are able to extend themselves and take good care of children and the elderly.
People of the common kitchen have been thinking about how to enhance their advantages and increase revenue in order to take care of more people. Only by having an open mind can one embrace future changes. As to enhancing sustainability so that they may become independent of external resources, they need to develop more advantages with advanced studies and better preparation.
Continuing to Move Forwards
To the Association, the process of applying to the employment program is an important opportunity for learning and stimulation. Being alert rather than being stable and content is the best state for an organization. By motivating themselves through pressure, they can push？the Association to grow. Many professional managers joined the Association through the Multi-Employment Promotion Program, and the Association has therefore grown stronger.
With mutual trust, they discuss and work together. Returning to his hometown after the 921 Earthquake, Lin Jian-chi laughed and said he has nothing to lose since he plans to grow old and die here. He will work hard every day and try to influence more people with concerted efforts. He is happy to embrace the thinking of the mainstream market, knowing that he needs to enhance himself to adapt to the competitive environment. Since each person has his own talents, Lin is fully aware that he should operate and accumulate social capital with a more open attitude. Lin also hopes participants will accept the values of the Association. He expects the organization to move forward in different stages based on the foundation they have built.
The Call of the Rainbow
In Atayal culture, the rainbow bridge is the place where the spirits of the ancestors make wishes. The rainbow bridge symbolizes the most traditional values. To Lin, the call of the rainbow is eternal. It keeps reminding him to be serious about his and others’ lives.
To some extent, the achievements of the Association might have realized his dream, but Lin knows that this is not an end but just another point of departure. “Even 100 years are not enough. I just want to do my best. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I’ll be comfortable with everything that comes to me. I’ll just go with the flow. Ten years later, if I’m praised by the people, I will be happy and proud.”
Returning to the core concept of Atayal culture is the most important competitive source of the common kitchen. The teamwork, mutual trust and abilities are the potential for them to keep moving. Although the common kitchen still relies on external resources, they are also building a path of sustainable development for the tribe.
The common kitchen is the home that brings people together.
▲ To Lin, the call of the rainbow is hislifelong aspiration.
The Atayal meals carry the stories of many indigenous communities.
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Please attribute this article to “Workforce Development Agency, Ministry Of Labor”.