Father of Beggars – Mr. Shih Ch'ien

Mr. Shih Ch’ien (施乾) a twenty-four-year old youth, was sent to investigate the life of the poor people of Monga (艋舺) area for he worked for the Office of Taiwan Governor General during the period of Taiwan under Japanese rule. He saw many people miserably begging on the street without properly being taken care of. As a result, he founded Aiai Ryou (愛愛寮)all by his own for the pitiful homeless beggars in the 12th year of Taisho period (1923).

Mr. Shih Ch’ien used up all his resources and the money he borrowed from relative to by the land of Midori Chou (綠町) of Monga. He set up small huts for beggar to live in and helped them to clean their body. He taught them to read, raise pigs, plant vegetables and weave shoes for supporting their own lives. On the other hand, he wrote books based on his observation on beggar’s lives for putting forward the way to solve the problem of beggars’ and arouse people’s attention of them.

After Mr. Shih Ch’ien founded Aiai Ryou, he had to face the cost of taking care of the beggars. His wife Mrs. Hsieh Hsi (謝惜), fully supported his husband as always. She sold her dowry to provide the financial need of Aiai Ryou. She also lived in Aiai Ryou and ate the same food with the beggars. In the 5th year of Showa Period (1928), Mr. Shih Ch’ien was summoned by the Japanese Emperor and awarded imperial prize of money. It’s a great honor of Aiai Ryou. However, soon after honorable moment, Mrs. Hsieh Hsi was died from fatigue in the 7th year of Showa Period (1930). Although Mr. Shih Ch’ien experienced the financial difficulty and the loss of his wife, he didn’t give up on taking care of the beggars. in the 9th year of Showa Period (1934 AD) a lady from a wealthy Japanese family – Mrs. Shimizu Teruko (清水照子) married Mr. Shih Ch’ien and came to Taiwan to help the work of Aiai Ryou. She followed the tradition of Aiai Ryou personally take care of the beggars. After Mr. Shih Ch’ien died from cerebral hemorrhage it the 19th year of Showa Period (1944 AD) the great love of Mr. shih was succeeded by Mrs. Shimizu Teruko.

Shih Ch’ien lived his whole life in the period of Colonial Taiwan. In his limited existence, he had in-depth realization of beggars’ life and founded Aiai Ryou, a place with unlimited tolerance and love. We call him “Father of beggar”. He not only personally implemented the idea of reducing beggars but also established the role model for a modern citizen to take the responsibility of social reform.