Thu, May 30, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Businessman builds park to recall kind neighbors

By Su Fu-nan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Jhennong Temple in Kaohsiung’s Alian District is pictured on Sunday.

Photo: Su Fu-nan, Taipei Times

A Kaohsiung businessman who funded the construction of a public park in the city’s Alian District (阿蓮) said that he did it to commemorate his childhood neighbors who showed his family kindness in a time of need and to honor his father’s advice to be charitable.

Chu Keng-nan (朱更楠), the owner of Gashan Construction Co, said that he was born in the district to a poor family of seven who depended on his mother’s income, as his father had palsy and could not work.

Living off foraged greens and yams, his family would not have survived if not for the neighborhood’s kindly grain merchant and grocers, who let his mother buy necessities on credit for many years, Chu said, adding that his family paid the debt well after he started elementary school.

After becoming a successful businessman, he bought 2 hectares in the district and established the Chu Family Garden of Thanksgiving for the public to use, Chu said.

The names of the grain merchant and the two grocers, as well as their acts of charity, are inscribed on stone tablets in the park so that their kindness to those in need can be remembered, he said.

Chu said he also founded the Jhennong Temple, which distributes rice to poor people, for Taoist deity Shennong (神農大帝, god of agriculture) and cofounded the Jhennong Charity Association last year.

“My late father taught me that being poor is not shameful as long as you aspire to be more, and that you must treat others the right way and help people to the best of your ability,” he said.

Chu said that he began working as an apprentice excavator operator after finishing elementary school.

He would take apart the machine at night to figure out how it worked and was once slapped in the face after getting caught, he said.

While his friends were paid NT$2,800 to his NT$200 per month, he was able to get ahead in life partly because he always saved two-thirds of his income for his family, Chu said.

“Fortune is fickle and people should not allow themselves to be defeated by setbacks or grow prideful in success,” he said.

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