Home>Service> Global Love of Lives Award> 16th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award> Sherry S H ChenSouth Africa—The Goodwill Ambassador to Africa
[From Taiwan, With Love] 

I go wherever people need me the most, and I do everything necessary out of goodwill and love. By bringing hope and education to African children, I bring light to the Dark Continent.
--Sherry S H Chen
Sherry S H Chen, the Chief Executive Officer of Amitofo Care Center, departed from her 12 halcyon years as the Member of Parliament of South Africa to fulfill Venerable Hui-Li’s dream to bring light to the Dark Continent. She built schools and adopted 3217 orphans in 54 poorest African countries such as South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland, bringing hope and education to African children and warmth and light to the African hearts.

Trials and Tribulations
Sherry Chen, born on 25th of December, 1955, is regarded as the pride of overseas Chinese and an outstanding congresswoman. She was a trade major at National Taiwan University, but the unexpected pregnancy forced her to drop out of college to look after her child. When her ex-husband had an extramarital affair, Chen refused to lead a life of frustration and humiliation, so in 1987, she handed the guardianship of both her children to her mother, and moved to South Africa where she had only 500 dollars and no clue about the place. She worked as an English secretary to a businessman who instructed her to apply for government subsidies. Eventually it turned out to be a fraud, and her employer fled right after receiving the fund.

Being unemployed, Chen took on part time jobs as a phone operator, a typer, a secretary, and a waitress. She then started a travel agency with a business partner when she had sufficient amount of savings. Although the business was far from lucrative, she was finally able to provide her family with an abundant life.

In 1987, Chen was introduced to Vincent Lin, who had just arrived in South Africa and needed Chen to be the interpreter. Six months later, Lin lost his father, wife and daughter, who died on South African Airways Flight 295 in a plane crash. The tragedy that required their mutual support transformed their friendship to a relationship. Later on, they established a rock crushing plant and a farm together.

In January,1993, six years after they met, Sherry Chen married Vincent Lin. The couple started seven other companies after the success of their factory and farm, providing services such as investment consulting, construction development, real estate, agriculture, imports and exports. The garment brand run by Chen and Lin, known as “TOP”, which integrated sales, production, retail and development, was a great example of successful overseas Chinese businesses in South Africa.

Chen, or “A-Hui” as many overseas Chinese call her, is indeed a lover as well as a fighter. Honored by many, Chen is not only a role model for business leaders and philanthropists, but also for every immigrant starting businesses overseas.

Mercy and Compassion
In 1994, when Chen’s businesses had been settled, she joined the largest opposition in South Africa. Five years later, with the support of her husband, who was a member of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council, Chen started her campaign to run for Congress. In early 2000, Chen was elected the member of the Johannesburg City Council, and in early 2004 she won the by-election and became the Member of Parliament, and was reelected in May. As a congresswoman, she fought for the rights of overseas Chinese and the love of her constituents brought Chen into the Parliament of South Africa once again in 2009. Her devotion and efforts not only amazed many South African politicians, but also improved social status of the Chinese in South Africa.

Being blessed by the teachings of Buddhism, Chen learned to grab the moment and spread mercy and compassion, by which she gained a happy life. To save African orphans from poverty, hunger and illnesses, Chen and her husband, Lin, provided financial aid for Venerable Hui-Li’s Amitofo Care Center in Malawi in 2002, and Chen was assigned as the Chief Executive Officer of Amitofo Care Center in Africa in 2006, when she adopted 20 orphans. Currently, Chen has adopted 3217 African children and devoted to education and helping the poor. She provided these children with nourishment and shelter, and led them to a brighter path. For many years, Chen and Lin have traveled across the continent for the orphans, and even sent these children to Taiwan to perform. To fully dedicate herself to philanthropy, Chen resigned as a congresswoman after 12 years in office and gradually departed from her political career. She has indeed shown her mercy and compassion, and is truly an honorable figure.

On the 25th of April, 2012, President Ma Ying-jeou arrived in Swaziland, where Chen led a group of orphan choir to welcome the Taiwanese President. On a banquet held by the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chen presented a gift to President Ma on behalf of all overseas Chinese as well as a warm atmosphere during the President’s stay.

Lighting Up the Dark Continent
Chen’s career as a politician had brought her pride by serving the people, but life is more than just pride. During the time when Amitofo Care Center was founded, Chen decided to contribute back to the society by shouldering the responsibility as the Chief Executive Officer of Amitofo Care Center and by devoting herself to charity for life. In 2010, Chen shifted from politics to philanthropy, exerting herself to help as many orphans as possible. At Amitofo, she has not only found where she belonged, but also established other branches across Africa. Her belief in the importance of education guides the emphasis of the Center that aims at teaching orphans the right attitude and habits. When these children grow up to be the leaders of Africa, the Dark Continent may no longer be dark.

The purpose of life has been the question Chen ruminates about. Chen, who is over 50 and dedicates her own life to Amitofo Care Center, has no regrets. Every time when a new branch is built, she reminds herself to do as much as possible to help the need. She even says that Amitofo Care Center is the love of her life to every person she meets. With her mercy and compassion, she has brought light to the Dark Continent, and her focus has gradually spread from South Africa to West Africa, Central Africa, and eventually will be extended to North Africa. Chen materializes her love into action, and she traveled by her own feet to the darkest corners of Africa to approach the need. The love that transcends ethnicity and nationality not only empowers the children in Amitofo Care Center, but also brings color and light to the Dark Continent.

We thank Chen Chien-Hui for her devotion to Amitofo Care Center and all humanitarian missions across Africa, which is achieved by only a few. Her dedication, courage and perseverance have shown the world that our dreams will come true, for she has indeed lit up the Dark Continent.
The following are some of the feedbacks from children at Amitofo Care Center:

Name: MacDonald Manda
Age: 16
Date of Adoption: 29, Dec, 2006

The Day I Will Never Forget
The 29th of December, 2006 is the day I will never forget. On that day, Chen adopted me and I became a child at Amitofo Care Center. I was thrilled when they I was chosen, for I knew I had a chance to go back to school, as well as a bright future.

On that day I bid my farewell to all my friends. Some other children envied me, and some were happy for me. But there was also a person who discouraged me from going to the Center, believing that Chinese people were cannibals, which was untrue.

As soon as I arrived at the campus, I received a very warm welcome. I was so happy not just because of the people, but also that I have learned a lot. I believe at Amitofo Care Center, my fate has changed, and so will my future.

Amitofo has provided me with warm clothes, good care and many other treasures. It is where I pursued knowledge, by which I may even go to college. I am truly grateful for everything from Amitofo.
Name: Esnart Mlira
Age: 16
Date of Adoption: 4, Sep, 2005

Reflection upon Chinese Bridge
I’ve learned a lot from my preparation for the contest. At first it felt extremely hard to memorize all the materials, but I still did my best. Eventually, I was able to remember everything and write down the characters that I had not understood. I could also answer some interview questions in Chinese.

Upon arriving at the venue, I was very nervous, and I kept ruminating about the simulations I’ve practiced before. I even asked my teacher what to do should I forget everything.

During the written exam, it was a relief when I saw only 7 simple questions. During the oral exam, I was assigned to be the first contestant to deliver the prepared speech, which was not a big deal since I’d prepared it very thoroughly. After the perfect speech delivery, I was still the first to perform during the talent show, and I felt quite at ease after I finished.

I came first in the competition, which pleased me very much, because I knew my efforts were not in vain. I learned not just new Chinese characters, but how to make friends with others during the event.
A Letter to Children at Amitofo Care Center
Dear Ms. Sherry Chen and children,
Hello! I’m Chia-Yien, your foster mother from Singapore. When I saw your pictures, I was so happy for all of you. I hadn’t known that children in Malawi were so adorable and energetic. I am very proud to have seen you grow up to be brave individuals.

I am now 48 years old and work for a computer firm as a manager. I love reading, and I love playing around just like you. I also like volunteering, and visit my disabled friends at the shelter whenever I have time on Saturdays. I do love kids as well, and I bring thirty 11-year old Singaporean children to China and Taiwan to learn about Chinese culture every year.

I have always shared your stories with children in Taiwan, China and Singapore. When these children knew about you, they not only started learning English and African languages, but also martial arts and Mandarin. These children were all inspired by your stories, from which they realized that nothing cannot be learned as long as there is a will.

I know that you all take good care of yourself, and you all study very hard. I hope that you’ll learn to love, to help, and to respect, and I hope you would love my storybooks.