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Philanthropist returns to her veggies

TAIPEI--Vegetable vendor and philanthropist Chen Shu-chu of Taitung County put her life back on track by reopening her business early Tuesday after a week-long visit to the Philippines, where she was awarded a Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Chen showed up at her stall in the traditional market shortly after 3 a.m. She declined requests for interviews, saying that she wanted to return to her normal life as a vegetable vendor.

What Chen has done over the years is anything but normal, however. She leads a very frugal life in Taitung and gives away all she earns from selling vegetables. She has previously donated some NT$10 million (US$333,874) to help local children receive education and improve their lives.

On Monday, she donated another US$50,000, the prize money she received with her Ramon Magsaysay Award, also called the “Nobel Prize of Asia,” on Aug. 31 in Manila. The sum was given to Mackay Memorial Hospital's Taitung branch to build an intensive care unit.

Chen said that before the trip to the Philippines, she had taken only three “vacations” from her business since she started selling vegetables at the age of 13.

The first two times were was when she was sick and admitted to hospitals in Taipei and Hualien. The third was when she visited New York to attend a citation dinner after being named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010, based on her philanthropy.

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