Mother of Taiwanese Beggars' remembered
By Sandy Huang, Staff Reporter, Taipei Times.
Taipei Times Tuesday, Dec 25, 2001, Page 2
CARING FOR OTHERS： The president was among the mourners at the funeral of the Japanese woman who helped so many of Taiwan's sick, needy and homeless
President Chen Shui-bian （陳水扁） paid tribute to Teruko Shih （施照子）, also known as the "Mother of Taiwanese Beggars,"（台湾乞丐之母）at her funeral yesterday for her lifelong dedication to the sick and needy in Taiwan.
Shih died on Dec. 9, aged 93, from heart and liver failure. Nearly 500 people, including former president Lee Teng-hui （李登輝）, attended the funeral at Taipei City Second Funeral Home.
"With respect, we honor Shih's dedication and devotion to caring for the sick and needy in Taiwan," said Chen Tung-sung （陳烔松）, president of the Ai-ai Yuan （愛愛院）, Shih's organization. "Through Shih's lifelong love and care, many people who lived on the edge were able to find comfort and support," Chen said.
Those who attended the funeral were grieving the loss of a respected Japanese woman who had devoted more than half century of her life to a foreign land that she came to call home.
Shih, whose original name was Shimizu Teruko （清水照子）, was born in Japan to a well-off family. n 1934, Shimizu came to Taiwan after marrying Shih Kan （施乾）, who had impressed her with his work for beggars and sick people living on Taiwan's streets.
According to an account from Shih's descendents, Shih Kan, a well-educated Taiwanese, had decided to give up his well-to-do job to care for the social outcasts he saw every day on the streets.
They said that Shih Kan would drive around the streets in his truck looking for beggars, drug addicts, mentally handicapped and those who lived on the fringes of society after being abandoned by their families. He would then take them home, which he called Ai-ai Ryo （愛愛寮）, which literally means love-love dorm in Japanese, to shelter, nurture and educate them.
Upon arriving Taiwan, Shimizu devoted herself to helping Shih with the sick and needy by bathing them.
"Though she is not a Taiwanese by birth," said Kao Chun-min （高俊明）, a presidential adviser who also served as the master of ceremonies yesterday, "her love for Taiwan surpasses that of many others.
"Indeed, the fact that President Chen and former president Lee came to pay Shih tribute demonstrates that they not only love Taiwan themselves but also respect those who do the same for the country."
When Shih Kan died in 1944, Shizumi thought of returning to Japan. "But in the end, she didn't have the heart to leave those in the Ai-ai Ryo behind -- more than 100 of them -- to return to the streets as beggars," Kao said. "She decided to stay, assimilate as a Taiwan citizen and carry on with Shih's work for Taiwan's disadvantaged."
After the Japanese occupation of Taiwan ended in 1945, the Ai-ai Ryo changed its name to Ai-ai Yuan（愛愛院）, meaning love-love institution in Chinese. Its focus turned to the care of the elderly, "since the issue of beggars was not as a big problem as it was before," said Chang Shih-hsien （張世賢）, a councilor at the Ai-ai Yuan.
"But for A-ma, as we like to call her, which means grandmother in Taiwanese, her love and care for the people stayed the same."
Chang said that Shimizu would often give away her monthly salary from her post as Ai-ai Yuan's head and distribute it among the elders and laborers such as the cooks, janitors and gardeners at the Ai-ai Yuan.
"She was really approachable and you could tell that she really cared," Chang said.
Chang Wen-chun （張文春）, who has stayed at the Ai-ai Yuan for the past 10 years, echoed the councilor's remarks.
"Every day, she would mingle with us, chat with us and ask how we were doing," Chang said. "And every morning, she would lead prayers with us and we would all sing songs together."
A devout Christian, Shimizu did not like to publicize her deeds, Kao said.
"Every once in a while, various organizations in Taiwan and Japan would offer to award her an honor and make a donation to Ai-ai Yuan after noting her devotion to the needy," he said. But, Kao said, she always refused such offers, saying that in a Christian spirit, "the left hand shouldn't let the right hand know of the good deed it does."