MANILA: A Taiwanese vegetable vendor, who has personally given away over 7 million Taiwanese dollars ($231,800) to several charities for children, was among six winners of Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel prize this year, its foundation said on Thursday.
The Manila-based Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation named Chen Shu-chu as one of six winners, citing her for “personal giving, which reflects a deep, consistent, quiet compassion, and has transformed the lives of the numerous Taiwanese she has helped.”
From her daily earnings as a vegetable vendor, Chen, who reached only the sixth grade and sleeps on the floor, was able to help build library and feed and shelter children-at-risk as well as families displaced by disasters.
“Money serves its purpose only when it is used for those who need it,” she said. “I feel happy whenever I could help other people.”
The awards also honored Filipino Romulo Davide, who helped farmers fight pest infestation on rice, bananas and other crops; Indian Kulandei Francis, head of a village self-help group; Syeda Rizwana Hasan, an environmental lawyer from Bangladesh; Cambodian agronomist Yang Saing Koma who helps farmers’ improve rice production; and Indonesian Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto who is fighting to stop illegal logging. The winners will receive a prize of $50,000 with a ceremony set for late August.
“The Magsaysay awardees of 2012 are six remarkable individuals, all deeply involved in creating sustainable solutions to poverty and its accompanying disempowerment — whether in the forests or on farmlands, in exploitative industries or in inadequate education,” Carmencita Abella, foundation president, said in a statement.
The awards, named for a popular president of the Philippines who was killed in a plane crash, were set up in 1957 by the trustees of the New York-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Nearly 300 people and groups, including the US Peace Corps and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have been recognized since 1958.