An ex-Hongkonger, social worker known as ‘Mother Teresa of Singapore’ tries to keep a peaceful mind
SCMP Aug 08, 2011
Steering clear of gossip is the key to a long life, a 113-year-old Singaporean woman says.
Returning to Hong Kong in a wheelchair seven decades after she left the city, Teresa Hsu Chih said keeping a peaceful mind was her secret to longevity.
A well-known social worker in the Lion City, Hsu said she still occasionally did counselling work.
She was speaking as a guest at event held by the Hong Kong Health Care Association on Aging a few hours after flying in from Singapore.
Assisted by a care-giver, she can communicate slowly in Cantonese, Putonghua and English.
Daily meditation was also important, Hsu said.
“You just sit in peace. Think about what pain people suffer and what you can do to share your love,” she said.
Staying single may also have helped.
“I am not married. There’s no guy there to yell at me,” she said with a broad grin.
A vegetarian diet with lots of fruits is another secret to Hsu’s longevity. She starts a typical day by eating two raw eggs, with the yolk used as a facial mask. She likes soft fruits, such as melon, papaya and avocado.
Hsu said she did not have any disease common among the elderly, such as diabetes and osteoporosis.
Taking the flight yesterday, however, raised her blood pressure a little, as a doctor found when he measured it at the event.
Hsu is often referred to as the Mother Teresa of Singapore, where she started a non-governmental organisation to help the aged and sick in 1961.
She was born in 1898 in Guangdong and moved to Hong Kong aged 16, working as a cleaner while taking evening lessons in English.
During the second world war, she quit her job as a secretary and bookkeeper and went to Chongqing as a volunteer. At 47, she began to train as a nurse in Britain, where she worked for the next decade.
In 1961, she settled in Singapore and began her lifelong vocation of helping the needy.
Hsu returns to Singapore today.