Taiwanese fruit and vegetable vendor and philanthropist Chen Shu-chu (陳樹菊) in Taipei yesterday donated the US$50,000 (NT$1.5 million) she recently won to the Mackay Memorial Hospital to help the hospital build an intensive care facility at its branch in the city of Taitung.
Chen said she had no need for that much money and that the award was like “a gift from heaven” that she wanted to share with more people.
She said her mother died 50 years ago because her family could not afford the deposit needed to get her mother admitted to a hospital. She said this helped teach her the importance of addressing the issue of scarce medical resources in the east coast city of Taitung.
Chen, who leads a frugal life in Taitung County and gives away the money she makes from selling vegetables has donated NT$10 million (US$334,000) to fund the education of local children.
Chen received the US$50,000 prize money as part of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, dubbed the “Nobel Prize of Asia,” on Friday in Manila for her many selfless deeds. She was the only Taiwanese among the six recipients this year and was the 11th Taiwanese to have been bestowed with the honor since the award was first given in 1958.
The hospital said the construction of the intensive care unit started in April this year and that of the estimated NT$1 billion needed to complete the project, NT$200 million must be raised from the general public.
The hospital thanked Chen for understanding the urgency of the matter and for donating the money to the medical project.
Chen said during her trip to the Philippines that her dream is to save as much money as possible so she can donate it and that “as long as I’m still alive, I’ll keep doing what I’ve always wanted to do, which is to help people.”
Earlier yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) received Chen at the Presidential Office, telling her that “the story of what you have done is more influential than any textbook or school course.”
“It is very remarkable,” Ma added.
Ma said that if there were more people as devoted to charity as Chen then those less privileged in society could access greater levels of care.
Chen responded by saying that what she does is not a big deal and that “every time I do something good, I feel happy.”
Chen said she did not understand English and was not able to communicate with Philippine vendors when she visited a market in Manila. Ma assured her that people could understand her through facial expressions and body language and the brilliance of the humanity she brought with her.
At the end of the meeting, Ma gave Chen a necklace made of lazurite and a book, while Chen gave the president two bags of dried mangoes she brought from the Philippines.