Terminally ill teacher donates his life savings

BENEVOLENCE::Visually challenged students will benefit from a NT$2m scholarship created by a teacher who has given his all to students he treated as his own children

By Chang Hsuan-che and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Aug 27, 2013 - Page 5

Being diagnosed with terminal cancer may spell the end of the world for most people, but for 60-year-old Ko Ching-chuan, a stage-four stomach cancer patient, it has spurred him to make maximum use of the time he has left to contribute to society.

Ko, who was born blind, moved to the then-Taichung City from his hometown in Changhua County when he was seven years old to attend the National Taichung Special Education School for the Visually Impaired.

He completed his elementary and secondary education and was taught massage therapy techniques and Chinese meridian theory, before gaining admission into Taipei-based Tamkang University’s Chinese literature department.

After graduating, Ko returned to the his former school to work in the Braille materials division, and despite his full-time job, he continued to hone and sharpen his massage skills.

Impressed by Ko’s endeavors, the school later offered him a position as a massage instructor, a profession he has practiced and excelled in over the past two decades.

Ko has mentored nearly 1,000 students with congenital blindness, and his generous personality has made him one of the school’s most popular teachers.

Because of Ko’s dedication to his students the Ministry of the Interior presented him with a Golden Eagle Award in 2006.

The annual award recognizes those who have overcome physical disabilities to accomplish outstanding achievements.

Therefore, it was no surprise to Ko’s students and close acquaintances that the first thing he did after learning last week that he is in the final phase of stomach cancer was to use his life savings, totaling NT$2 million (US$66,000), to create a scholarship to benefit students in need.

He also donated hundreds of books to the library.

“I know there are many visually challenged students from impoverished families. Maybe you can use the money to buy them some snacks,” the school’s principal, Wang Cheng-lin (汪成琳), quoted Ko as saying when he donated the money to the school.

Wu Chun-te (吳俊德), a former student and practicing masseur, said Ko always treated students as if they were his own children, and the students are saddened by the news about Ko’s health.

Wang said Ko’s parents, who are in their 80s, support their son’s benevolence, but are devastated at the idea of losing him so soon.

“Ko said it has been his lifelong dream to help impoverished children receive education. Now that he has fulfilled that dream, he will have no regrets in his life, only our unreserved admiration and utmost respect,” Wang said.