Fri, Mar 15, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Near-death event prompts mission to help others

By Wang Kuan-jen and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Philanthopist Chu Pin-chen speaks during an interview at a restaurant in Taipei on Wednesday.

Photo: Wang Kuan-jen, Taipei Times

A near-death experience prompted Vietnamese bride Chu Pin-chen (朱品臻) to turn her attention to helping others.

Chu, who came to Taiwan 17 years ago after marrying a Taiwanese man, nearly died in hospital nine years ago after developing cerebral edema — an excess accumulation of water in the brain.

After recovering, Chu swore she would devote her life to helping people in need.

To help her achieve this, Chu put aside 30 percent of her profit from a small business she ran and other investments, using the money to build infrastructure in her hometown in Vietnam and pay the medical expenses of foreign laborers injured in Taiwan.

She plans to start a foundation to help more foreign workers and other disadvantaged people, Chu said.

When she first came to Taiwan in 2002, she had only planned to be a “simple housewife,” Chu said, adding that recovering from a nearly fatal illness changed her outlook.

She faced many challenges in the beginning, but was determined to succeed, she said, adding that she threw herself into studying Mandarin, and learning about Taiwan’s laws and culture.

In 2011, she opened a small restaurant selling snacks, as well as a karaoke parlor, and worked long hours every day between the two businesses.

Chu has even participated in beauty pageants and won, with the prize money going toward helping others.

Chu said that her plans did not initially run as smoothly as she had hoped.

Her first attempt at opening a business failed and she was tricked out of money, as she was unfamiliar with the laws and procedures, she said.

However, she was not deterred by the experience and received help from her community, she said.

Being able to help others is a great feeling, as she grew up in a poor community, Chu said.

One of those who recently received her help was a Vietnamese laborer who fell from the 12th floor of a building he was working on. When Chu heard the news, she visited him in hospital and paid his medical bills.

“I hope I can bring a sense of warmth to fellow Vietnamese who are in a foreign land like I am,” she said.

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