Thu, Nov 22, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Tale of hungry old man touches many

HELPING HAND:Netizens found the story of a DJ in Kaohsiung giving food to an elderly man inspiring, but also a sad illustration of the failure of the social system

By Huang Hsu-lei, Tsai Ching-hua and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

An act of kindness by a Greater Kaohsiung resident to save a poor old man from going hungry has struck a chord across society, with the story spreading across the Internet like wildfire.

“The Sad Tale of Uncle A-ming” was posted on social networking site Facebook by a man nicknamed “Beast,” who works as a nightclub DJ.

As of Wednesday last week, the post had elicited more than 300,000 “Likes” and has been shared by more than 200,000 people on Facebook.

According to Beast’s post, he saw the elderly man with a pushcart full of trash for recycling near a breakfast eatery in Cianjin District (前金) in Greater Kaohsiung one morning last week.

With teary eyes, Uncle A-ming approached him and said: “After picking through the trash all night, I didn’t really find anything of value. These will probably sell for only NT$30 or NT$40. I haven’t eaten all day and I’ve run out of rice at home. Can you please help me out?”

Beast wrote that the man was trembling due to hunger and weakness, so he took him to a convenience store nearby and bought him a lunchbox and sports drink.

According to Beast, Uncle A-ming used to work at a construction site, but he injured his right hand while trying to save a co-worker. He lost his job because of the injury and was unable to collect compensation from labor insurance.

Uncle A-ming said he has a daughter, but she was irresponsible and spent all the family’s savings. She later hooked up with a university student and has not come home since, Beast wrote.

Uncle A-ming’s misfortunes did not end there. He was introduced to a man who took him to the Kaohsiung Medical College to apply for a “physical handicap certificate” for the job injury, but this unscrupulous middleman took a big cut of the compensation money.

Thereafter, Uncle A-ming has toiled every day, collecting recyclable materials from late night to early morning. He said that the people he met at night were generally more friendly and kind-hearted than those he encountered during the day.

“About a third of the people I’ve encountered at night have given me water or something to eat. Others have also given me some money,” Uncle A-ming said.

“The price for recycling materials has fallen drastically,” he said. “Before, I could sell a cart full of paper and cardboard for NT$70 to NT$80, but now I can only get about NT$30 or NT$40. And now the price of rice has gone up.”

“It’s not so bad, because we are in Greater Kaohsiung,” he said. “Even though everyone is going through hard times, many still help the poor and the homeless.”

Before leaving, Beast bought two large bags of rice for the man, saying: “This costs me only the price of one or two meals.”

Uncle A-ming was very moved and thanked his benefactor.

“One bag of rice can last for one to two weeks. I’ll take them home and cook rice porridge for my grandchildren,” he said.

The story of Uncle A-ming has resonated with many people on the Internet, with some commending Beast for helping out.

“We have lost much faith and confidence in this country, but your act of kindness has ignited new hope for us,” a netizen named “Kevin Han” wrote.

“When I see people like ‘Beast’ helping the needy, being a Kaohsiung resident, I feel very proud!” another netizen wrote. “I hope everyone in Taiwan can help others when they encounter a similar case. Or you can help them link up with government agencies and organizations that can provide assistance. Let’s not waste the nation’s social welfare resources on unnecessary programs. Money should be spent on the most needy in society.”

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