Volunteer Tour – Sweet Potato Mama
This project helps single mothers live independently by allowing them to become vendors of the traditional Taiwanese sweet potatoes.
Support the mamas by helping them sell the sweet potatoes and get to know them as they teach you how to roast sweet potatoes.
Reported by CNN
Min 1 traveler
Sweet Potato Mama? Who are they?
Walking on the busy street in Taipei, have you ever seen some vendors selling roasted sweet potato? They are a group of hard working single mothers also known as “Sweet Potato Mama.” No matter how tough life is, they never give up because there is always something that keeps them moving toward a better life—their lovely kids.
Why sweet potato?
Sweet potato symbolizes an important part of Taiwanese food tradition, and every Taiwanese must have tasted it sometime before. Therefore, the founder of Genesis Social Welfare Foundation wishes to help single mothers make a living independently by selling this simple yet symbolic food. Pushing a portable traditional oven that is shaped like a big drum, the mamas work almost everyday to support their family.
How does this work?
They sweet potato mama program is supported by “Genesis Social Welfare Foundation (GSWF)”. The foundation was established in 1999. There are three types of services offered by the foundation:- To take care of PVS sufferers in poverty.- To look after the elderly.- To care for the homeless.GSWF has long been assisting single mothers to earn their living independently.
What will I do during the project?
You will experience what the mamas do everyday. In Sweet Potato Project, you will help the mamas to clean, cut and process the yams! You can also take your time chatting with the mamas or other participants. Don’t forget to learn as much as you want to cook yams and share your stories with others.
How long will it takes?
This project contains 2 parts: first part we will introduce the whole sweet potato mama project, including the start of the foundation and the project. The second part you can experience the life of these sweet potato mama – so sell the sweet potato with them! The tour is about 2 hours, after that you can choose to leave or stay longer to experience more about their lives.
How much do I need to pay?
45 USD per person. We charge because we want to let this event run as a sustainable project. This fee will be used to pay our tour guide and to donate to these sweet potato mamas (except for the administrative cost).
11:00 Meet you at Taipei MRT Shandao Temple Station Exit 5
11:10 Visit the Factory and Introduce the Sweet Potato Mama Project
12:00 Sell the sweet potato with Mamas
13:00 End at Taipei MRT Shandao Temple Station
1 people (Suitable age: 6+)
11:00 am at Taipei MRT Shandao Temple Station Exit 5
When to book
Book 3 days in advance
What to bring
Your passion and lovely smile
Adult (Over 6 years old)
45 USD per person
Child (0 to 6 years old)
Free of charge. (Please note there must be at least one adult accompanying the tour with child.)
A great English/Chinese -speaking guide
Of course, memories that money can't buy!
Please note that tips for your tour guide are NOT included.
“The beauty of travel lies in the people you meet and not the sights you see .” and “Travel firm offers chance to experience life as a street vendor” ……Read More
“Noting that the language barrier has never been a problem, because smiles always get the message through.”……Read More
“Topology Travel takes visitors to meet single mothers who have been taught by the Genesis Social Welfare Foundation to cook sweet potatoes in mobile oil drums and sell them to make a living.”……Read More
Feedback from Past Participant
“To Experience Taiwan… is to Know Taiwan” Dana from Canada
Today I ‘hung’ with Miss Wong a.k.a. a Sweet Potato Mama…one of fifteen single moms who is actively attempting to embetter her life through a Taipei NGO community work placement program. I entered this ‘Live As A Local’ arrangement with Topology, with no expectations except to hang out for a few hours with a local lady and get a glimpse of Taiwan through a street vendor’s eyes.In the end…I didn’t want to leave…
Touched by one life
I arrived at Shandao Temple MRT, Exit 5, as arranged, at 10 a.m., and I found my ‘Miss Wong’ unpacking her 2 young (aged 3 years and a 4 month old) adorable hardly defines them, children. Her equipment was in place…a traditional oven, sized and shaped like a 45 gallon drum, the bottom half a charcoal burning compartment, the top half containing a grill to bake the yams…all on a portable trolley. Ingenious!
Yams are an available, yearlong crop that became part of the Taiwanese tradition through tough times. To me, yams symbolize more than just a tasty, healthy snack! Miss Wong has a year’s worth of expertise in roasting red and yellow sweet potatoes, a 365-day work a year, with 7 days per week and 12 hours per day! She is a master of the trade. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when tending to a toddler and an infant in between customers. I am in awe of her dedication, commitment and work ethics! I admire Miss Wong!
More than just a sweet potato
Of course I had to test the product. This steamy, moist Taiwanese red yam was the sweetest and creamiest I’ve ever tasted! Obviously liked by others too, because on an average day she sells 100 yams! I believe it’s Miss Wong’s ‘technique’ that makes them extra special!
Love across language
I am Canadian, Miss Wong is Taiwanese, and my Chinese is as bad as her English, but it didn’t seem to interfere with our connection…we laughed a lot, tried to teach each other some language and shared her hope.
A taste will never forget
My experience was so much more than just healthy snacks, cooked in a traditional way. I got a taste of a life I would never have known…and will never forget.
(P.S. I also just learned that by donating your numbered receipts from purchases in ANY store in Taiwan…buys opportunity for all the Sweet Potato Mamas out there, to win the National Lottery!)