Taipei, Sept. 3 (CNA) Taiwanese vegetable vendor and philanthropist Chen Shu-chu donated Monday a cash award of US$50,000 she recently received to Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei to help the hospital build an intensive care unit in its Taitung branch.
Chen said she would not need so much money herself and the prize award was like "a gift from the heaven" that she would like to share with more people.
She said her mother died 50 years ago because her family could not afford a cash deposit in order to get her mother admitted to a hospital. She said that therefore, she knows the importance of addressing the issue of scarce medical resources in Taitung.
Chen, who leads a very frugal life in Taitung County and gives away all she makes from selling vegetables, has previously donated some NT$10 million (US$333,874) to fund the education of local children and improve their lives.
Chen received the prize money when she was awarded a Ramon Magsaysay Award, dubbed the "Nobel Prize of Asia," Aug. 31 in Manila for her selfless deeds over the years. She was the only Taiwanese among the six recipients this year and was the 11th Taiwanese to have been bestowed with the honor since the award was first given in 1958.
The hospital said the construction of the intensive care unit has started in April this year. Of the estimated cost of NT$1 billion (US$33.5 million), NT$200 million needs to be raised from the general public, the hospital said.
The hospital thanked Chen for understanding the urgency of the matter and for donating the sum to the project.
Chen said during her trip in the Philippines that her dream is to save as much money as possible so she can donate it, and that "as long as I'm still alive, I will keep doing what I've always wanted to do, which is to help people."
Earlier on Monday, President Ma Ying-jeou received Chen in the Presidential Office, telling her that "the story of what you have done is more influential than any textbook and any school course."
"It is very remarkable," Ma said.
Ma said if there are more people that are as devoted to charity as Chen, the less privileged in the society would receive more care.
In return, Chen said what she does is not a big deal and that "every time I do something good, I feel happy."
Chen said she did not understand English and was not able to communicate with Filipino vendors when she visited a market in Manila. Ma assured her that people could understand her through facial expressions and body language and the brilliance of humanity she brought with her.
At the end of the meeting, Ma gave Chen a necklace made of lazurite and a book, while Chen gave the president two bags of dried mangoes she brought from the Philippines.
(By Lung Jui-yun, Lee Shu-hua and Jamie Wang)