Taiwan's RM awardee: A simple life of giving
MANILA, Philippines - Uneducated, unassuming and unbelievably generous, Taiwanese vegetable vendor Chen Shu-chu lives a simple life and only wants to keep on working until she drops so she can continue giving to others.
So far she has donated almost 10 million Taiwan dollars to various local charities, while she herself sleeps on the floor and refuses to indulge in a single luxury.
"Some people say I'm crazy, but I just do what I like, what feels right," said Chen, distinguished with a Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012 for her extreme generosity.
Giving must come 'from within'
Chen has been asked many times why she gives away all her money, and she always has the same answer.
"It is a happiness and a satisfaction that comes from within, and that is what tells me that what I'm doing is right," she explained during an interview with Rappler.
That is why she doesn't try to inspire others to donate.
"I have never asked or convinced any of my family members or friends to give money because I think to donate is something that should come from within, not because someone asked you to do it, or recommended or suggested that you do it."
This 61-year-old woman from Taitung county in eastern Taiwan never made it beyond the 6th grade in school and has been selling vegetables ever since.
When she was a teenager she started investing her then meager earnings into insurance funds, but when the first returns came in, she thought it best to give to others who needed the money more than her.
"I didn't know what to do with the money, so I just donated it."
Chen gave away a lot: $32,000 for a children's fund, another $32,000 to the local orphanage, and $144,000 to help build a library at the school she attended as a child.
Meanwhile, she lives in a tiny apartment where she sleeps on the floor.
"My house is very simple. it's sort of like a hotel for me because I only go back to sleep. Otherwise most of my time is spent in the market."
Wants to keep on giving
Chen admits at first, many people thought she was completely nuts.
"In the beginning they would tell me, why are you so stupid, why do you give all this money away? I would tell them, well, as long as I have what I need to survive, to live day by day, that's enough for me."
As the years went by, everyone just got used to her generosity: "Now I think they are just numb because I do it so often."
Not that Chen ever actually cared about anyone else's opinion.
"I don't really know what people think of me now. I only go about my own business. I rarely think about what other people are doing and why they are doing it. I just do what I feel is right for me."
Vendor for life
Although she has reached an age when many are already thinking of retirement, Chen can't seem to envision any other life than running her little vegetable stall in the market.
"As long as I'm still capable and still breathing, I want to keep selling vegetables, as well as donating money, until the day I cannot do it anymore."
She sells, but she rarely cooks.
"I work such long hours that when I get home I just want to sleep. i eat most of my meals out," says this woman whose favorite dish is a Taiwanese farmer's meal: white rice with fermented bean curd.
After spending a few days in Manila, Chen had time to appreciate Filipinos for being "so warm and welcoming" but admitted she has barely tried the local food because she is a strict vegetarian. - Rappler.com