We often get people giving us quizzical expressions whenever we share about our giving trip to Korea. South Korea, the country where creativity, music and dramas overflow from, trend-setter for iconic fashion styles and ever-changing hair colours, land of abundant makeup, place that houses so many beautiful people.

Really? Why?

 

 

 

It was really about how opportunity placed itself in our hands. Beyond the glitz and glamour that has been well advertised by media, there is a darker side to their culture that is often forlorn and covered up by societal stigma. Korea has witnessed an increase in the number of abandoned children, especially in recent years. “The shame of an increasingly affluent and confident country sending its children abroad to find the love denied at home played on the national conscience so foreign adoption was made harder,.” (2015, Stephen Evans, BBC News). Add unto that the taboo of adoption; due to the deeply-rooted importance of blood-ties in Korea, there is an overwhelming number of children to care for and low adoption rates have orphanages stretching thin to provide the children with necessary financial, physical and emotional support.

 

We had the privilege to work with Jerusalem Ministry, a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating and equipping volunteers to love and care for orphans in Korea. They also support and run events to fund various orphanages. Of which includes Myeongjin Children’s’ Home, which was where we distributed 80 #buildabag bags to.

 

 

 

 

We spent two days in Myeongjin Home doing nothing ground-breaking, but simply to spend time with the toddlers. Most of the older children attend school in the day, leaving the home mothers (home mothers are mostly full-time volunteers/caregivers to the children, and are affectionally called '엄마' [pronounced "oh-ma"], 'mom' by the children), caring for the younger kids. The children at Myeongjin range from barely a month old, to high schoolers who are preparing to leave the orphanage for independent living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the orphanage does not house youths past high school age, and many find themselves in a situation where they suddenly lack a familia and community. Family is apparently everything in Korea; your character traits are deemed a slice off the block of your ancestors, hence your family, or the lack of one potentially brings about many barriers in life. For example, employers can request for your family register as a clause for employment, and many orphans find themselves in a pickle during their job hunt. Jee, our key liaison person from Jerusalem Ministry, also explained to us that many of these youths eventually suffer from depression due the unavoidable circumstance they are thrown into, one that lacks support and love, something we too often take for granted from our loved ones.

 

We hope our small act of giving would spread some love to these amazing children, one that breathes hope, that even strangers from a foreign land are rooting for their success, and that they are no less important than any other child.

 

pixel xo, xHF