Sun, Sep 09, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ex-gangster now making noodles for those in need

AFP, TAIPEI

Yen Wei-shun, a former gangster, poses in front of his noodle shop in New Taipei City on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

For most of his life, Yen Wei-shun (顏維勳) was on the wrong side of the law, but the former gangster said he is making up for lost time by churning out noodles for the needy.

His family has for decades run a noodle stall, tucked away in a bustling traditional market in New Taipei City. Yen, 40, now works alongside his mother to make free bowls of noodles for customers who cannot afford a meal.

Yen’s venture has caught the attention of local media and a video of his life, made by a Shanghai-based online outlet, has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube.

His gangster life started when he was young — at 15 he was convicted of manslaughter after fatally wounding a man in a group fight and jailed for four-and-a-half years, he said.

After his release, Yen continued to be involved with gangs and found himself in court again eight years ago on illegal gun possession charges.

He got away with a suspended sentence, something he said was a “second chance at life from heaven.”

“This case was like a wake-up call for me. I have come to realize I must cherish what I have from now on — my family and freedom,” he said.

His family’s cooking cart is loaded with steaming pots of broth and noodles.

Bowls of noodles with pork, shrimp and cabbage sell for NT$80 to regular customers, but they can also give an extra NT$75 to pay for a bowl for someone who cannot afford it.

Yen said he gives away 600 to 700 free bowls a month, mostly paid for by donors, and makes up any shortfall himself.

He has served 40,000 bowls of free noodles since he started the initiative more than four years ago and offers delivery services to residents with physical disabilities.

Those asking for free food are usually elderly or young people without jobs, Yen said.

He does other charity work and has also visited prisons to talk about his experiences.

One of the regulars at the noodle stall is a 62-year-old ex-gangster, who is estranged from his family, Yen said, adding that he serves as a constant reminder not to return to being a gangster.

“I see many old gangsters who end up like him. I feel very sad and realize how much time I have wasted already,” Yen said.

Support from his family and appreciation from people Yen has helped are keeping him on the right course, he added.

“In my old gang days I felt like I was always walking a tightrope, because I could meet enemy gangsters anytime, but now I meet people who are happy to see me,” Yen said.

This story has been viewed 2154 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top