Cor Willems, ‘Father of polio children in Taiwan,’ passes away at 84

Focus Taiwan
Date: 12/10/2020
By: Worthy Shen and Chung Yu-chen

Father Cor Willems (center). Photo courtesy of Yilan County Government

Taipei, Dec. 10 (CNA) Dutch priest Cor Willems, who is better known in Taiwan as "father of polio children" after caring for thousands of children affected by the disease during his time in the country, passed away in his native Netherlands aged 84 on Dec. 7, according to the Beunen Foundation in Taipei.

Born in 1936, Willems came to Taiwan as a missionary at the age of 27. At that time, polio was widespread as the country had a relatively undeveloped health care system, with many children receiving poor healthcare and education. Willems, his fellow Dutch priest Gerard Beunen and others established Wen-Sheng Rehabilitation Center in Jiaoxi, Yilan in 1971. Equipped with hydrotherapy and rehabilitation facilities, the center cared for thousands of children suffering from polio over the years.

In many cases, children with polio were rejected by their families, as many parents were unable to cope with the disease and unable to afford the medical bills stemming from related treatment.

After seeing how such children were treated, Willems persuaded their parents to send them to the Jiaoxi-based center. He even mastered the Taiwanese Hokkien dialect with a local accent, gradually winning the respect and affection of local people.    [FULL  STORY]

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