Thu, May 30, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Eatery owner gives meals to homeless

FOOD AND STRENGTH:Ou Kuang-jung said his mother crying and telling him that she felt unlucky to have a son on drugs turned him around and led him to help others

By Wang Chieh and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Restaurant owner Ou Kuang-jung, right, and others on Saturday last week prepare lunchboxes that he provides free to homeless people.

Photo: Wang Chieh, Taipei Times

A 62-year-old restaurant owner in Tainan who used to be a drug addict has donated more than 50,000 lunchboxes to people without homes.

Ou Kuang-jung (歐光榮), who owns a seafood restaurant, began gambling and loaningsharking at the age of 15.

In his 20s, he became addicted to heroin. He served time for drug offenses, but would relapse after being released.

Unable to afford his drug habit, he resorted to asking his mother for money.

Ou said that he remembers his mother crying as she handed him a stack of cash and told him that she felt unlucky to have given birth to a son who was addicted to drugs.

His mother’s words were “as loud as thunder” and made him realize that he could not go on living like that, he said.

He decided to quit drugs, he said, adding that during his recovery he contemplated killing himself.

Thoughts of his wife and mother motivated him to leave a life of drugs and overcome his addiction, he said.

After he quit drugs, Ou took on odd jobs, such as being a security guard, until he could save enough to open a seafood restaurant.

At first, he did not even know how to chop vegetables, he said, adding that he spent more than 10 years getting back on his feet.

Ou said that about four years ago, he was divinely inspired to “share his food with everyone,” so he began offering free lunchboxes to homeless people.

Every Saturday starting at 7am, 300 homeless people line up outside his restaurant to receive a free meal at 11am.

Ou said that every time he sees a child, he does not make them stand in line, because children should not have to suffer.

A mother, father and child, who at one point relied on his meals, later returned several times with more than 50 cabbages for him to give to those in need, he said.

Ou said he hopes that his lunchboxes, like the helping hands in his life and that family’s life, will give others the strength to pick themselves up.

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