If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teresa Hsu - Singapore's Mother Teresa

I had the pleasure and honour of meeting Ms Teresa Hsu. Does her name ring a bell?

Teresa Hsu Chih, or commonly known as Teresa Hsu, is known affectionately as "Singapore's Mother Teresa", in recognition for her active life-long devotion in helping the aged sick and destitutes locally. The retired nurse is the founder of the non-profit charities—Heart to Heart Service and the Home for the Aged Sick, one of the first homes for the aged sick in Singapore. She has been a social worker in China and Paraguay and a nurse in England, before coming to Singapore to start similar non-profit charities since 1961.

Teresa is all of 112 yrs old this year and has been actively involved in charity work for the most part of her life. She has spent almost all her savings on feeding and housing the poor and the elderly, all of whom are younger than she is, but she herself leads a simple and humble lifestyle.

Before we met, Teresa’s friend and care-giver, Brother Sharana, had told me Teresa wanted to eat ice cream at Swensens – it was her favourite place and vanilla was her favourite flavour, and so we took her to Swensens for her favourite vanilla ice cream. When she found out that it was my friend’s birthday, Teresa clapped and burst into song, singing Happy Birthday to my friend in Spanish! Boy, was I amazed!

Spending the afternoon with Teresa was enlightening, heartwarming, and entertaining. She is an alert, witty and intelligent lady. Her wit and sense of humour would put many people half her age to shame. Throughout our tea, she laughed frequently and I found myself laughing too, at her unexpected jokes and sense of humour. She is well-read and extremely knowledgeable.

Despite her age, Teresa still has perfect eyesight, although she has lost her hearing in her right ear; “lost it to the devil”, she says, happily starting on her second scoop of vanilla ice cream. When asked how she feels about death, she says she can't tell you because she hasn’t experienced it yet. That’s wit from someone almost three times my age!

Teresa’s memory of her early life was very clear, being able to tell stories of her childhood with clarity and ease, although she seems to have lost some of her short term memory; but this was to be expected, given her age. Her philosophy is, life is simple – love and laughter.

After I sent her home, I found myself smiling when I thought about her quick witted replies during tea. She is truly and inspiration and perhaps it really is not so difficult to just give love and laugh.


Volunteers Required for Food Distribution

Date:  Sunday, 27 June 2010

Meeting Time:  9.45am

Meeting Place:  Heart to Heart Centre.

No. 130 Hougang Avenue 1 (Next to Block 165) and Opposite Lamp Post No. 46

Transport - you can help out regardless of whether you have your own transportation. You just need to email Teresa and Sharana to let them know if you do have your own transport. 

Queries on helping, please email Teresa Hsu at teresahsu105@pacific.net.sg

For more information on the work that Heart to Heart does for the old and needy folks please visit

Thank you for making the difference in their lives.


  1. She cannot possibly be 113 this year. The oldest person in the entire world today is 114. No one at that age can still be as healthy as you described. If she really is, the entire world would be here in Singapore interviewing her.

  2. Hi, thanks for your comment. This link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_Hsu_Chih would lead you to more info on Ms Teresa Hsu. Thank you.


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