Chen Shu-chu is a seller of vegetables in a stall in Taitung County's central market, in eastern Taiwan. Out of her modest living, Chen, 59, has managed to donate nearly NT$10 million (that's $320,000) to various causes, including $32,000 for a children's fund, $144,000 to help build a library at a school she attended and another $32,000 for the local orphanage, where she also gives financial support to three children.
What's so wonderful about Chen's achievement is not its extraordinariness but that it is so simple and matter of fact in its generosity. "Money serves its purpose only when it is used for those who need it," she told a newspaper.
And rather than bask in her celebrity, Chen seems to dismiss the whole thing with a wave of her hand, perhaps even with a hint of irritation. "There isn't much to talk about, because I did not enter any competition," she says. "I haven't really made any huge donations."
She's planning to establish a fund to help the poor with education, food and health care. Amazing, but of all she has given away, her greatest gift is her example.
Lee is the Taiwanese-born director of Brokeback Mountain
Correction appended: May 6, 2010. The original version of this article misidentified the location of the market as southern Taiwan. The market is located in eastern Taiwan.