Chen Shu-chu (陳樹菊), a fruit vendor from Taitung County honored for her philanthropy, said she plans to travel to the Philippines to attend the Aug. 31 Ramon Magsaysay Award ceremony for “the sake of Taiwan’s honor.”
The winners of the award, given to Asian individuals in recognition of their selfless acts, were announced last month, but Chen initially showed little interest in attending the ceremony on personal grounds.
She said she was not interested in going to the ceremony due to her fragile health condition and because her market stall would be particularly busy in the period ahead of the Chungyuan Festival (中元節), also known as the Ghost Festival, which falls on Aug. 31 this year.
However, on Tuesday she agreed to go to the ceremony after the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Timothy Yang (楊進添), and Taitung County Commissioner Justin Huang (黃健庭) convinced her to accept the award in person.
Chen is one of six recipients of the honor this year and is the 11th Taiwanese to be bestowed with the award, which many call “Asia’s Nobel Prize.”
According to the award committee, she was given the honor for “transforming young lives through a life of giving.”
Chen plans to donate the prize money of US$50,000 to Mackay Hospital’s Taitung branch to help the hospital build an intensive care unit, said Lee Pei-fang (李佩芳), the county commissioner’s secretary, who will accompany Chen to the Philippines.
As Chen cannot stand for long periods of time or walk long distances, special attention is to be paid to itinerary arrangements and the best care possible is to be provided for her, Lee said.
By living a frugal life and working hard, Chen has been able to donate more than NT$10 million (US$332,200) over the years to help launch a childrens’ fund, build a school library and an orphanage as well as give regular financial support to three children.
Chen has also been recognized for her charitable work by the international media.
In 2010, she was named as one of the 100 most influential individuals in the world by Times magazine and was listed as one of the 48 Heroes of Philanthropy by Forbes Asia in the same year.
Chen will leave for the Philippines tomorrow and return to Taitung on Sept. 3.