Chong An, Taitung, Taiwan (2012)

We started our collaboration in Chong An at the community center, a humble little place. This is the original structure of the Ah Mei people. The Village of Chong An is right next to the Ocean.

About fifty families are part of the community in Chong An, but only thirty or forty people live here now. Some people have gone elsewhere to find jobs. There are sixteen students in the school from first grade to fourth grade, no more.

Chong An doesn’t have the poverty of Africa, it has a different kind of poverty, more like the poverty in North Philadelphia. The people are sustained by government subsidies but then there is no future for them. Many people don’t think about surviving after the age of twenty-five and they sell drugs or go to the army to fight wars because there aren’t other opportunities.

Even so, there are many beautiful and pure parts of life in Chong An. Their tools are cut from bamboo. They hunt and forage in the forest for food. Cooking bowls are made from a large folded leaf. The people in Chong An cook fish by putting water inside the bowl, heating rocks in the fire, and then by putting the rocks in the water to boil. You can make soup, or fish, and it’s so fresh and healthy.

There is one family in Chong An where the father was a laborer in Saudi Arabia. He saved money and built a house with an Arabic style. We are going to do some work there. We’ll start in the public, in the community center, and then move to the private, so when you walk down the street you’ll come across different energy points and hopefully the art will expand.

The people in Chong An were so welcoming. Lily Yeh got her identity card in Taitung. That was Lily Yeh’s new birthday, becoming a citizen in Taitung.

After doing a slideshow presentation, Lily Yeh did a workshop with the teachers, adults and the children in Chong An, inspiring all of them. We all created together. Everyone made beautiful drawings.

We collected the drawings and then we looked and we talked. The community asks, responds, and tells their stories. One child did a picture of himself with his hands hidden behind his back. He explained that was because he had a surprise present for his grandmother. It made the older people very happy.

Another child in the community made a drawing with three people dancing—his grandpa, his grandma, and him. This image will go up on the wall.

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This is the place we started in Chong An, a humble little place.

This is the original structure of the Ahmai people. Thatched roof, just kind of put together.

Maybe fifty families are part of the community in Chong An, but only thirty or forty people live here now.

People in Chong An are sustained by government subsidies but then there's no future for them.

This is the community center in Chong An.

The Village is right next to the Ocean.

These are the tools used in Chong An, just cut from bamboo.

This is how they carry water when they go out hunting.

They cook fish by putting water inside this leaf bowl, heating rocks in the fire, and then by putting the rocks in the water to boil.

We are going to paint this house in the future.

Lily Yeh got her identity card in Taitung.

That was Lily Yeh's new birthday, becoming a citizen in Taitung.

This was the presentation Lily Yeh gave.

Starting the project.

Painting the community center.

Transforming the site.

A happy day!

This is the whole school, sixteen members of the Chong An Village. From first grade to fourth grade, no more.

Lily Yeh did a workshop with the students and with the older members of the community, inspiring all of them.

They paint!

We all create together.

Lily Yeh happily looks at the students artwork.

The elderly citizen paints, it's very sweet.

Happily focussed students drawing.

The adults painting.

Respond, look, people tell their stories.

Response, answer.

Children's work, very nice.

They explain.

Cleaning up the site.

This is before starting, sketching, teaching, participating.

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