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Shih Chien (Protector of the Beggars)

 Shih Chien was the most special and virtuous Tamsun personage as well as an example of the humanity of Taiwanese people. In 1922, Shih Chien, who was only 24 and newly wed, gave up his enviable job and good pay to establish a beggar shelter and devote himself to the endless business of charity. 

Shih Chien was born in 1899 in Hu-wei (old name for Tamsun) Mi-shih Street (now Ching-shui St.). He graduated in 1912 from Hu-wei Public School and enrolled at the Taipei Engineering Institute, which was very difficult for Taiwanese people to enter. He graduated with distinction in 1917 and was soon hired by the Commerce and Industrial Section of the Japanese Governor-General Office as a technician. His work led him to inspect the living standard of the poor people in Mangkah. Shih saw the helplessness of the beggars under Japanese colonization, therefore he paid for the beggars medical fees and taught their children to read and write. In order to help more beggars, he asked his uncle Shih Huan to convince his father to sponsor him. Shih also collected timber and built a house on Green St. (now Da-li St.) in Taipei as the shelter for beggars. He named the place "Ai-ai Liao" (the house of love). By that time Shih had already resigned from the job in Governor-General Office in order to take care of the beggars and homeless persons in Ai-ai Liao full time. He washed their bodies himself, and taught them how to weave. He raised pigs and grew vegetables in the backyard in order to train them to earn money for themselves. His funds only came from limited donations. Shih Chien"s good deeds became well known to the Japanese as they were reported by the famous writer Kikuchi Kan, and Shih Chien was awarded prize money from the Emperor of Japan. What"s most impressive and moving is that both Shih Chien"s first wife (who died in 1932) Hsieh Hsi and second wife Shimizu Teruko both followed Shih to live in Ai-ai Liao with more than 200 beggars. In 1944 Shih Chien died due to sudden high blood pressure. Shimizu Teruko continued her late husband"s mission and maintained his work up to this day. The spirit of the Shih Chien family is an example to us all.