Monday without a Wheelchair: a story of caretakers in Taiwan

The resilience and resourcefulness of Filipino migrant workers in Taipei, told through poetry, dance, video, and a community-sourced cultural map.
Minsik Jung

From the curator:

Monday without a Wheelchair presents us with imagery of a caretaker pulling a suitcase, instead of pushing a wheelchair as they normally would. Having lost their job after their elderly patient passed away, they must now make a living selling cosmetics from that suitcase. Through poetry, dance, videography, and a community-sourced map of Little Manila in Taipei, Minsik alludes to the challenges faced by Southeast Asian migrant workers in Taiwan while highlighting their resilience and resourcefulness. A section of the map, explaining services provided by remittance stores, is marked with the subheading “We send everything but us.” Minsik’s work raises questions about what forms we expect migrant stories to take, and how these stories can reflect both the joy and sorrow of a life far away from home.

From the storyteller:

According to the Ministry of Labour, there are over 200,000 foreign caretakers in Taiwan; more than 74% of them reported not receiving any time off from work. This storytelling project is inspired by Gayra Mara Che, a Filipino caretaker whom I met in the area called “Little Manila” in Taipei. Gayra Che has lived in Taiwan for more than 10 years while sending money back to the Philippines every month to raise her children; she receives no help from her husband, who ran away a long time ago. Since her last patient passed away, she has been selling Filipino cosmetics on the streets in Little Manila. It is her only way of making a living. I wanted to show that her struggles, resiliency, and hope—and that of her peers—deserve to be documented in art forms like poetry and dance.

Little Manila turns into a hub for Filipino migrant workers on Sundays. Through a month-long group workshop, I worked together with them to create an illustrated map and cultural guide to the area. The map shows aspects of how these workers have shaped an area within Taipei, creating a home away from home. It also notes the roles played by KASAPI (KApulungan ng SAmahang PIlipino) and TIWA (Taiwan International Workers’ Association) in campaigning for labour rights and better working conditions for migrant workers.

For myself, I now call Taiwan home. I started this project by asking a question: what does home mean? When I shared the poem and video with Che and her friends, they said, “Yes, the suitcase is our life.” Perhaps “home” is always on the move, travelling with our lives, wherever we are.

We send everything but us.
I came to Taiwan with a dream in my arms instead of my kids.


Taiwan International Workers Association (TIWA):


Story inspired by Gayra Mara Che
Choreography and dance by Stella 江玲
English translation by Lee Phil, Naomi Goddard
Chinese translation by Jo Minji, Stella 江玲, Huitheng Khoo
Filipino translation by Kim Seungyong, Yvonne Zamora, Nineta Penida


TIWA台灣國際勞工協會, Tapsilogan Sa Chungshan, Hu Chongxian 胡崇賢, Liezl, Lorna, Luisa T. Sulit, Carolyn Romin, Katherine, Anywhere Slowstep, Donghoon Seo

Minsik Jung is a South Korean writer and photographer interested in social issues, culture, and diaspora stories. In 2020, Minsik won the Oh Janghwan Literary Award for his poetry, with his writing being recognised for highlighting various injustices. His work often captures the delicacy of life and, whether it is nature or the human form, he portrays incidental, quiet, and fleeting moments that catch his eye. Minsik is currently based in Taipei, where he combines creative mediums to create visual and poetic content that share stories from South East Asian migrant workers on the hardships they face in Taiwan.


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