Vegetable seller wins Asian equivalent of Nobel Prize


MANILA – A Taiwanese vegetable vendor, who has personally given away more than seven million Taiwanese dollars (€189,000) to several charities for children, is among six winners of Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize this year.

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, Ms Chen, who reached only the equivalent of sixth class in school and sleeps on the floor, was able to help build a 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 honoured 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 (€40,700) 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,” said foundation president Carmencita Abella.

The awards, named after a popular president of the Philippines who was killed in an air crash, were set up in 1957 by the trustees of the New York-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund. – (Reuters)