One-Forty, an NGO in Taiwan dedicated to shining a light on Southeast Asian issues across the country at the weekend hosted a festival in the Huashan 1914 Creative Park aimed at offering Taiwanese in the area a chance to see the reality behind the lives of the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Taiwan.
The aim first and foremost was to put on display the diverse identities of migrant workers in Taiwan – aside from that most often associated with their status as low paid workers.
One-Forty founder, Kevin Chen (陳凱翔) said of the events, “we hope to
display migrant workers’ pursuits during (their) leisure time, in search of their dreams, as well as to help reverse Taiwanese people’s prejudice toward the laborers.”
Off work, the migrant workers have their (own) shining moments. They could be band members, singers, designers or photographers. Just like anybody else.
Eco-fashion spotlights environment issues
Mark, a clothing designer at the event, is a Filipino factory worker.
A disastrous chemical explosion in his factory nearly destroyed his face and his future. However, Mark turned his frustration into strength, and started to learn about makeup, cosmetics, and design while recovering.
Utilizing material from beach cleanups, he made costumes for models from waste. Mark said, “Even (though) we’re migrant workers, we have talent.”
In Taiwan a total of 700,000 migrant laborers prop up a number of local markets and industries, and although sharing the same sky, the island has created a form of segregation based on background.
The implicit bias built into many, from the minds of individuals in Taiwan, has become institutionalized and has ended in racism (against the migrant population).
With the push of migrant rights focused NGOs there have been a number of protests by migrant workers against poor working conditions in recent months.
Participation in an open dialogue by all in society on this issue is the only way to break Taiwan’s current racist practices against these people – who after all, share the same sky we all see when looking up.