Sunday, May 9, 2010

陳樹菊 Chen Shu-chun's media arc began in 2005 with a front page story in the Liberty Times during the adminstration of Taiwan President Chen Shiu-bian

2005 -- first media mentions
2010 - more media mentions, Forbes magazine, Time magazine

Local vendor makes Forbes philanthropist list, reported the United Dail News in March 2010

A 61-year-old vegetable vendor in Taitung City, eastern Taiwan, has been honored as one of this year’s “48 Heroes of Philanthropy” in the Asia-Pacific region by Forbes Asia.

Chen Shu-chu, who has donated nearly NT$10 million (US$312,305) to various charities and altruistic causes over the last 30 odd years, was selected for the annual list compiled by the magazine for the third straight year.

Upon hearing the news, the modest Chen played down her contribution to society, saying in a definitely understated manner that “I haven’t donated much money.”

Chen has by no means had an easy life herself. She had to drop out of school at the age of 13 to help her father support her four younger brothers and two little sisters by selling vegetables after her mother passed away.

Over the last few decades, Chen has donated most of her earnings from working tirelessly as a vegetable seller in Taitung’s Central Market. The charity organizations she has helped with generous contributions include the Fo Guang Shan monastery and the Kids Alive International orphanage.
She also donated NT$4.5 million several years ago toward the construction of a library at the Ren-Ai Elementary School that she once attended. In addition, Chen recently revealed to a friend that she plans to donate NT$10 million this year toward helping poor students in Taitung.

On March 7, Taitung County Magistrate Justin Huang sent officials to visit Chen on his behalf to convey his best regards regarding the honor bestowed by “Forbes.” During the visit, the officials pasted up a large red sign with the words “Honor of Taitung” as an expression of congratulations.

Speaking about the “Forbes” list, John Koppisch, associate editor of the magazine, said the names chosen “aren’t always the biggest givers. Instead, we aim to highlight a varied group of generous people…who deserve recognition.”
(This article originally appeared in the “United Daily News” March 7, 2010.)

Taitung County Commissioner Justin Huang puts a specially-designed apron on vegetable vendor Chen Shu-chu upon her return to Taiwan early yesterday morning.



Anonymous said...

Chen Shu-chu 59Taiwan

A vegetable vendor in the Central Market in Taitung in eastern Taiwan since 1963.

Dropped out of school after her mother died and began selling vegetables to help support the family of 7. Works virtually every day. Donated $32,000 for a children's fund in 2004 and another $144,000 the next year to help build a library at a school she attended. Gave $31,000 in 2006 to the city's Kids Alive International orphanage and has spent $11,000 to support 3 orphans there. Plans to set up a $313,000 fund this year to help the poor with education and health care.

Related Video: A Hotelier's Charitable Mission

Anonymous said...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Tribute to Chen Shu-chu
United Daily News editorial

A Translation by Bevin Chu
March 10, 2010

Taitung grocery vendor Chen Shu-chu's name has made the honor role of Asian Pacific region philanthropists, alongside those of several famous international tycoons. She has watched over her tiny grocery stand for nearly fifty years. She makes a meager profit of five to ten NTD on each sale. Her three meals a day consist of plain rice flavored with a little soy sauce. A lunch box is considered a rare extravagance. Such hard work is how she underwrites her individual philanthropical efforts. Many impoverished students and families whom she has never met have had their lives changed by her generosity.

Forbes magazine recently published its list of Asia-Pacific Region philanthropists. Taitung central market grocery vendor Chen Shu-chu made the list. Chen Shu-chu is merely a common grocery vendor. Most of the philanthropists on the list have vast financial resources and international name recognition. The hundreds of millions of dollars they contributed, dwarf the amounts she contributed. But her type of comparison merely shows how uncommon Chen Shu-chu is. She is not famous. She does not have a vast and profitable business empire to support her philanthropy. She came from a poor family, and was forced to drop out of school because of financial hardship. The nickles and dimes she earns are the basis for her charitable giving. She has transmuted the hardships visited upon her by fate, into the adoption of orphans and the construction of libraries, all done quietly without self-promotion.

Chen Shu-chu is living testimony to the premise that man is by nature good. Chen Shu-chu's charitable contributions demonstrate the importance of "common man philanthropy." Approximately 80% of all contributions to non-profit organizations are made by ordinary people such as Chen Shu-chu. The average amount of each contribution is 600 NTD. Obviously many contributions are far less than 600 NTD. Small contributions and regular contributions eventually form a torrent. They enable non-governmental organizations to function and to implement their plans for the future.

By contrast, the large contributions from wealthy consortiums or tycoons often go to their college alma maters, to erect buildings in their own names, or to sponsor lecture series. A common practice is to set up a charitable foundation. This enables them to avoid taxes as well as enhance their public images.

We are convinced that those who promote progress in this less than perfect society are invisible people such as Chen Shu-chu. They do what they can. They do what they believe. They ignore the chaos of the outside world. They do what they are able to as individuals. Small individual charitable contributions are touching precisely because such individuals do not refuse to take action or to contribute because "It's not enough."

Chen Shu-chu's accomplishments are touching not because she had so much to give, but because she had so little to give. Many people think of philanthropy as something one does in one's spare time, with one's spare energy. They tell themselves they will become volunteers "after retirement." This is "surplus-based philanthropy." It takes into account the needs of the outside world only after taking account of one's own needs.

Anonymous said...

But Chen Shu-chu embodies the philosophy of "shortage-based philanthropy." Her life is spartan to the point of hardship. Yet she contributes more than most people to charity. This is the virtue of small charitable contributions by individuals. Small charitable contributions by individuals are valuable because they represent transcendent human values. They also have an important practical benefit. The Family Support Center and World Vision for example, can support a child for one month on only 1000 NTD. To jointly support a child requires only 300 NTD. Recently Ku Yu-wen won the international "Avant-garde Fashion Design Award." Li Chia-ju, from Tainan County, was the only person to achieve a perfect score on his college entrance exams. Both were children adopted by the Family Support Center. This shows that contributions need not be large. Small contributions can enable recipients to make new lives for themselves. For a mere 300 NTD, one can contribute to a poor child's monthly living expenses. Most people can afford to contribute that much. They merely lack the will or the initiative.

Amidst all the stage lights, Chen Shu-chu's response made her sound like a philosopher in the guise of a grocery vendor. She shared her view of money, opining that "Money to be useful, must be given to those who need it." In response to the accolades, she demurred, saying "It was nothing. Anyone could have done it. It all depends on whether one is willing or unwilling."

Our society has an abundance of clever people who know how to utter the same pretty words as Chen Shu-chu. It has an abundance of people far wealthier than Chen Shui-chu. But Chen Shu-chu's compassion eclipses these clever people with all their money. Eighty percent of all charitable contributions to non-profit organizations on Taiwan are made by individuals. The average amount is a mere 600 NTD. The philanthropical efforts of these anonymous counterparts of Chen Shu-chu restore our belief in human nature. Their simple faith and concrete actions make us realize that philanthropy does not turn its nose up at small contributions, and that the time to contribute is now.