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Famous Taiwanese vegetable vendor recovering at home after surgery

2018/03/08 21:22:15

CNA file photo

Taipei, March 8 (CNA) Vegetable vendor Chen Shu-chu (陳樹菊), who became famous a few years ago for her philanthropy, is currently recovering at home after undergoing emergency gastrointestinal surgery last month, her friends said.

Chen, 64, became ill in early February, about two weeks before the Lunar New Year holiday Feb. 15-20, but refused to see a doctor, according to a vendor who has a stall next to hers in the Taitung County central market.

Shortly before the holiday, Chen collapsed at her stall and was rushed to hospital, where she was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal problem that required surgery, the neighboring vendors said.

Her absence from her stall is very noticeable since she is usually there, rain or shine, selling her vegetables, the other vendors said.

Since Chen's hospitalization, there has been an outpouring of get-well messages on social media by members of the public.

Dubbed "the pride of Taiwan" and "the pride of Taitung," Chen has contributed over NT$10 million (US$332,200) to various charitable causes over the years, despite her humble means.

"Money serves a purpose only when it is used for those who need it," she was once quoted as saying in the media.

Living up to her words, she has donated US$32,000 to a children's fund, US$144,000 to build a library at a school she once attended and US$32,000 to an orphanage in Taitung, to name a few.

In 2010, Chen was named by TIME magazine as a hero of philanthropy, known for her generosity and willingness to heap.

She later went on to win the Ramon Magsaysay Award, a prize established by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in New York with the concurrence of the Philippine government, for her charity work.

The award carried a cash prize of US$50,000, which Chen donated in its entirety to Taitung's McKay Memorial Hospital to help build a new medical wing.

In an interview with the BBC in 2014, she said that what she was doing was not difficult or that big a deal.

"Everyone can do it," Chen said. "It's not just me. It's not how much money you make that matters, but how you use your money."

With her unassuming outlook and generosity, Chen has won the hearts of many people in Taiwan and abroad.

(By Tyson Lu and Kuan-lin Liu)