慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
A Most Helpful Person

 

Deputy Commander Susanna Wu abides by her father’s instruction to do good whenever possible.

"The family that accumulates goodness is sure to harvest abundant happiness.” This saying is known to almost every Chinese, and the stories about Deputy Commander Susanna Wu (武淑賢) of the Kaohsiung Airport Brigade, National Immigration Agency, prove just how true the saying is.

Serving in the Southern Office of Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry, I often help foreign celebrities and high-ranking officials pass through customs at the Kaohsiung Inter­national Airport. This seemingly easy job can be a big hassle very early in the morning, especially when I had errands to run till very late the previous night. My colleague Pearl Yu (游明珠) kindly reminded me that I could always turn to Deputy Commander Wu, who happens to be a Tzu Chi member, for help at such times.

“She’s one of the most helpful people I’ve ever known,” Pearl noted. She said that Wu had recently helped a female Vietnamese laborer based in Kaohsiung to return to Ho Chi Minh City to visit her mother, who had suddenly fallen ill with a fatal disease and was about to die. The laborer could have left for Vietnam with her Vietnamese passport, but she did not have enough time to apply for a proper re-entry permit that would allow her to come back to Taiwan. It was quite a dilemma until Wu stepped in to help. She immediately contacted the local agencies to obtain the permit for her, and even helped the Vietnamese woman purchase a much cheaper airplane ticket through a local travel agent. She saved the woman at least US$150, a large sum of money for her. It is worth noting that Wu contacted the travel agent and finally got the ticket issued when she was off duty and on her own time.

“I bade good-bye to her at the airport at six o’clock in the morning. It was such a relief knowing that she would be home with her mother just four hours later!” Wu exclaimed proudly.

“This small example indicates how warmhearted Wu is,” Pearl remarked. She pointed out that nobody expected Wu to do such a kind thing, and nobody would have blamed her if she hadn’t done it.

Pearl is correct in her assessment of Wu’s character. Wu has never turned me down when I’ve asked her for help. Out of curiosity, I asked her if her sweet and helpful demeanor was a part of her intrinsic nature.

“Oh, no! It was my father who taught us since we were kids that the value of our lives lay in doing good and helping others,” Wu explained. Her father, Wu Yong-zhong (武永仲), 90, had been a low-ranking officer in the army. He and his wife, Tsai, 80, painstakingly raised their five children on a meager salary. They also taught their children to lead a frugal life by setting good examples for them to follow.

“My parents always ate every grain of rice in their bowls—a wasteful lifestyle was never allowed in our family,” Wu said. When she was a kid, she seldom opened the refrigerator at home when she felt hungry because there wouldn’t be much food in it anyway. She always looked forward to festivals, as some of their rich neighbors might be so kind as to share their extra food and fruit with them. Ironically, she and her siblings were particularly happy when a typhoon struck because it was a chance for them to enjoy tasty rolls and bread that their mom had purchased as a “strategic grain stockpile.” The children all needed to work part-time after school. As a result, they basically had no vacations or holidays at all when they were young.

The family’s financial straits prompted the kids to study hard in order to obtain diplomas, which would allow them to find decent jobs with higher pay after they left school. All of their endeavors have paid off. Wu’s elder brother, Wen-ying (文瑛), earned his doctorate in adult education at Kaohsiung Normal University in 2006. Coincidentally, her father worked in the university parking lots around that time. “You can imagine how proud and happy my father was when telling his colleagues and friends this good news,” she noted.

All these wonderful stories about Wu’s family are food for thought for us. More importantly, they remind us how important it is to do good whenever possible.

Spring 2017