Vegetable vendor wins Asian Nobel prize

2012-07-26 14:07

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Manila - A Taiwanese vegetable vendor, who has personally given away over $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 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 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 an aeroplane 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 recognised since 1958.

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