RM awardee Chen Shu-jiu finds treasures in the mundane
Philippine Daily Inquirer
There are treasures lying just beneath the surface, this is the lesson Chen Shu-jiu of Taiwan learned in life. She now wants to share this lesson with others.
Chen Shu-jiu, one of the six recipients of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award, is living proof of how even an ordinary vegetable vendor can practice extraordinary altruism even in the face of poverty.
Apart from attending the awarding ceremonies, Chen only specifically wanted to visit a wet market in the Philippines.
She then paid a visit to the Cartimar wet market on the morning of August 29.
Her visit to the wet market is something she considers close to her heart. She started helping her father in running their vegetable stall at the tender age of 13.
Having experienced disappointments and adversities beyond what most can only imagine, Chen developed a strong awareness of the plight of ordinary people.
Some 50 years ago, she and her family could not afford a guarantee deposit for her pregnant mother to be admitted to a hospital. Eventually, her mother suffered a miscarriage and passed away.
Chen later on lost her two brothers. The losses proved to be devastating. Still, she carried on.
Having known the pain of the underprivileged, she held her head up and persevered, using the hardships as motivation to help others who are in need, whatever it would take.
Rain or shine, she ran her vegetable stall for more than 50 years. She would then donate most of her earnings to hospitals, schools and orphanages, hoping to help the needy.
Ang Lee, the Academy Award-winning film director, once said that “what’s so wonderful about Ms. Chen’s achievements is not its extraordinariness but that it is so simple and matter-of-fact in its generosity. Ms. Chen [believes] that money serves its purpose only when it is used for those who need it.”
Chen Shu-jiu may not have donated as much money as the likes of Bill Gates, but her love and care for those in need are genuine.
“The best part in life is to accomplish what one wishes to complete, and persist in one’s constant pursuit of his or her accomplishments,” says Chen, vowing that she will continue to run her vegetable stall and donate whatever she earns until she passes away.
Her world may revolve around that small vegetable stall, but her way of loving, caring and sharing serves to strengthen those engaged in charity and altruism.
In this overly pragmatic society, people tend to eagerly acquire as much material satisfaction as possible.
What we truly need is a humane approach to care for those in need around us.
Life is a series of ups and downs. Only when we have experienced desolation and hardships ourselves will we eventually realize what life is all about.
Chen Shu-jiu’s life reminds us that we should all be thankful and appreciative of what we have in our lives.
Indeed, she epitomizes ordinariness, and yet she has managed to touch so many lives by giving everything she could without expectations.
As the famous adage goes, “True kindness is helping someone who cannot give anything back.”
Chen Shu-jiu has set an enlightening example of true kindness—selflessness and charity that is not bounded by circumstance or material wealth.
Sign of good luck
In her visit to the Cartimar Pasay Market, Chen was joined by Ambassador Raymond Wang of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and other officials.
Chen was warmly received by the Cartimar barangay (village) representatives and stall owners of the wet market.
Chen was presented with a large radish by representatives of the vegetable stall owners—an act that is considered to be a sign of good luck in Taiwanese culture.
Chen’s charitable deeds may even inspire the stall owners at the Cartimar wet market—anyone of whom may even be a future recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Chen was conferred her award during the 2012 Ramon Magsaysay awarding ceremony held last August 31.
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