A fundraiser has been organized for Martene Metayer, a Haitian-American English teacher in Taiwan who has been hospitalized and in a coma since April 2020.

Metayer had been teaching in Vietnam before arriving in Taiwan last January. Soon after Metayer started a new job teaching in Hsinchu, she fell ill and was diagnosed with TB meningitis.

Her mother, Michelle Pelage, flew from Florida to Taiwan in May to support her, and now visits her daughter daily at a care facility. Metayer’s sister, Felicia Obryant, has recently started a fundraiser to raise US$200,000 for Metayer and their mother to return to the United States. With Covid-19, the costs have increased for a flight for Metayer. Since she remains unconscious and has a permanent feeding tube, she cannot fly on a commercial flight.

Returning to the U.S. will help the whole family financially and emotionally. Metayer will be able to receive long-term medical treatment and her mother can return to their support network at home. Pelage told The News Lens, “I can’t work here and have to pay for everything, both the apartment in Taiwan and my mortgage in the U.S. I have no life or support here.”

Life-threatening cases of TB meningitis in Taiwan are not especially common among expatriates. To work in Taiwan, foreigners are required to go through a comprehensive physical examination, which includes a screening for tuberculosis. Furthermore, due to Covid-19 precautionary actions in Taiwan, the spread of infectious diseases has gone down in the past year.

It is unknown how and where Metayer contracted mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium that causes tuberculous meningitis. Metayer’s sister Obryant told The News Lens, “The doctors don’t know where she got it, as the disease can be in your system for five years undetected. She visited almost all the countries on the list where TB meningitis is known.”


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Zoe Lorimer

Martene Metayer at Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Metayer, an avid traveler, has visited more than 50 countries. She traveled to most of them during 2018, including many countries with the highest rates of TB; South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Congo, Kenya, Cambodia, Tanzania, South Africa, Angola, Brazil, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

She has been sharing her travel experiences across the world through her YouTube channel and Instagram page. In March, before she fell ill, Metayer made a video detailing how Taiwan handled the Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020. She also shared her life in Taiwan as an expat during the pandemic in a blog article.


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Zoe Lorimer

It has been almost a year since Metayer was hospitalized. In January, Obryant created a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for Metayer and their mother’s travel costs and Metayer’s medical costs in Taiwan. “In May, my mom went to be with my sister, and we didn’t think it would be this long and expensive a process,” Obryant said. “So we didn’t really share or talk about it until now. It’s hard to ask for help and my sister is so private, so I was very hesitant to share her story.”

In sharing Metayer’s story, her family hopes that the international community in Taiwan can take action to support her. You can donate to Metayer and her mother to help them to return to the U.S. here.

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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