"30 Years of GOH" Commemorative Events Press Conference 2018/04/26
GOH celebrates its 30th anniversary

On April 3rd, the Garden of Hope Foundation (GOH) held a press conference to kick off a series of commemorative events titled “30 Years of GOH: Remembering the First Seeds of Hope”. The press conference opened with a piece of music called “A Girl’s Secret” composed by a GOH girl thirty years ago, and a theatrical monologue performed by GOH CEO Hui-Jung Chi, taking everyone back to the early days of the foundation.

In 1988, GOH started with one desk, one phone, and a part-time social worker, planning the creation of a halfway house for unfortunate girls. For thirty years, the GOH has adhered to the principle of valuing both service and advocacy, guiding women who are victims of gender-based and sexual violence through multiple hardships involving personal emotions, mental health, interpersonal relationships, economic livelihood, careers, childcare, and housing. More than 10,000 days have passed, and the GOH has not lost sight of its original mission, continuing its fight for gender equality and justice.

CEO Chi interviewed the foundation’s first chairperson, Chen-Tsung Shang, and first CEO, Wang-Hui Liang, reminiscing the difficulties the foundation faced in the early days. Shang explained how his religious beliefs motivated his efforts in ending child prostitution: Men and women are created equal, and both genders have their separate personality, sovereignty, and way of life; from a moral perspective all women are our sisters and not merchandise to be sold. He considered the largest compensation from working at GOH was helping young girls rebuild their personality and live a life full of purpose and value.

Liang recalled meeting girls working as prostitutes on Huaxi Street by chance and working with missionary Angie Golmon to figure out ways to help these girls. There was no halfway house then, so she had to find schools for the girls to enroll in and take them to church or other activities on days when there was no school. The most important thing is that it is not enough just to help the girls; the whole society needs to be changed in order to address the root of the problem.

The “30 Years of GOH Declaration” was recited together by CEO Chi, Mr. Shang, and Pastor Ya-Ting Hsu. The declaration pointed out the various solutions the foundation has come up with to address the issues it has witnessed: the need for a halfway house to aid girls who were sold or homeless; the need for anti-child prostitution and anti-human trafficking movements to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation; the need for empowerment of girls to help them escape from unfortunate circumstances; the need for treating the wounded inner child of sexual assault survivors; the need for empowerment of women to counter gender-based and sexual violence; the need for shelter and therapy services for children who are witnesses to domestic violence.

In addition, through assisting women with housing, job placement, and mending relationships, GOH discovered the importance of going the extra mile to rebuild women’s lives after trauma and violence. From its experiences of caring for unfortunate girls, setting up halfway houses, advocating anti-child prostitution, and acting as the protector of victimized women and girls, GOH realized it is better to act as a companion to these women—empowering them and helping them rediscover and recreate the beauty in life—instead of preaching or guiding them in a condescending manner.

At this thirty-year anniversary, CEO Chi laid out the goals that the foundation should continue to work towards: no more girls forced to quit school after becoming pregnant; no more sexual discrimination when seeking employment; no more violence when seeking love in a relationship; no more abandonment of elders for any reason. Last but not least, GOH will focus on improving the rights of its employees, striving to cultivate energetic, happy employees. We promise to continue our efforts in ending gender-based and sexual violence, creating a society of gender equality in Taiwan, and building harmonic, mutually beneficial partnerships.

A documentary on the 30 years of GOH was also shown at this press conference, chronicling all the stories, joys and sorrows throughout the thirty years. The documentary covered various achievements and testimonies of outside parties of the foundation: “Shi-Di”, the first native production of the “Vagina Monologues” in Taiwan; GOH’s own theater company “Barefoot Alice Playback Theater”; numerous cases of women whose lives were changed with the assistance of the foundation; Bandana Rana, who just left her position as chairperson of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS), talking about the impact of GOH; and the speech delivered by women rights activist and playwright Eve Ensler in Taiwan in 2015. The documentary was filled with meaningful images, highlighting how diverse and multi-faceted the advocacy work of the GOH is, which includes proposing new or amended laws, lobbying, obtaining government contracts, as well as expansion into fields of education and culture.

Moreover, an empowered girl assisted by GOH who eventually enrolled in graduate school, donated 32 LINE stickers to GOH that she created herself. It was a very meaningful gift for this occasion. The Deputy CEO of GOH Yueh-Hao Wang said from the adversities GOH faced thirty years ago to the present day where the foundation helps 20,000 to 30,000 people a year, GOH has always walked beside and fought with the victims of gender-based and sexual violence. To commemorate this special thirty-year anniversary, GOH has meticulously planned a series of events to look back on the past and look ahead to the future.

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