Thu, Jun 28, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Age no barrier to war veteran’s charitable acts

CHARMED LIFE:Hu Wei escaped death five times in two wars, which gave him a keen appreciation of the value of life and inspired his charitable donations

Staff writer, with CNA

Hu Wei (胡偉) is a 90-year-old veteran who survived the Sino-Japanese War and the civil war in China between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). During the wars, he escaped death five times. Because of his realization that life itself is the most precious thing on earth, he has donated more than NT$6 million (US$200,000) to the needy over the past three decades.

As he personally offered his modest financial aid to the needy, he would tell them: “Heaven never blocks people from surviving.”

“Because I’ve seen how horrible war is, I understand how fortunate I am that I can still help others,” Hu said in his Anhui accent.

At the age of 60, when he came to understand the meaning of the concept “giving is more blessed than taking,” he decided to donate NT$200,000 a year to needy people.

However, he did not simply want to help others by donating money. He pondered how best to ensure that the donations would make the biggest impact possible.

That question was answered when his second daughter suggested that he join a “charity experience camp” at her alma mater Zhongshan Girls’ High School in Taipei. That happened in February 2003. The camp enabled him to personally deliver donations to the people on the receiving end.

“When I saw the recipients’ real lives at home, I came to know how illnesses could devastate lives and how the less privileged are living in Taiwan,” Hu said.

He said he would tell the recipients that “there is no way heaven will block you, and there are no difficulties that you cannot surmount.”

What pleases him most is that many of those he has helped have managed to become independent and joined the ranks of volunteers, creating a circle of benevolence.

Hu said that because he missed the chance to get an education as a result of war, he has been especially sympathetic to those children who are too poor to continue their studies, so his donations have been concentrated on helping children escape poverty through education.

According to Kuo Chih-hsiang (郭志祥), president of the charity group Hu has joined, the veteran has offered assistance to a wide range of people — from teenagers to seniors over 90 years of age. Hu is the oldest member of the group — and the most popular one too, Kuo said.

He has taken part in more than 400 charity activities, donating more than NT$5 million since early 2003. He has also donated NT$3 million left by his wife, who passed away seven years ago, because “we both believed we would never be lonely if we could help others.”

Hu has three daughters and two sons and currently lives with his eldest daughter. His other four children all work in the US after earning master’s degrees.

When he worked as former economics minister Li Kwoh-ting’s (李國鼎) driver in the late 1960s, he moonlighted at the Central News Agency. After getting married, he opened a car repair garage, fixing cars, motorcycles and bicycles.

Hu’s health has declined over the past 18 months, but he still uses a walker to continue meeting the people he has helped, accompanied by his eldest daughter.

“There will be no end to my charity work,” he said, vowing to “stand on the frontline against poverty.”

The daughter remained low-key about her father’s good Samaritan acts, saying simply through the charity group that she fully supported her father’s decision.

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