Do you speak Korean?

Mar 13, 2009

My colleagues in Korea forwarded me a great article from the Hankook Iibo, major newspaper in Seoul. It’s about a shelter for abused children that opened in 2003 with support from Amway. This is one of the first programs Amway Korea funded through the One by One Campaign.

Here is the link to the article. For those of you who don’t speak Korean (like me), a translation is at the bottom of this post.

I visited our Korea office a couple of years ago and toured a “social welfare center” that Amway supports. In addition to donations, employees and distributors volunteer their time mentoring students and teaching after-school classes.

They all wear brightly colored vests with the One by One logo. We brought one home and put it on display here as a symbol of the exciting things they are doing for children in Korea.

Amway volunteers in Korea

It’s interesting how things translate. If you read the article below, there are some expressions that just come across more straightforward than our nuanced English language. Like “happy” … they use that word a lot in titles and program descriptions.

In Amway offices in Korea, there is a “Happy Apple Tree” used by employees to raise funds for children’s programs. They can deduct from their paychecks or just give to the cause. Once they raise enough money to help a child with a surgery or a scholarship or some other need, they add an apple to the tree. There were 8 when we visited. I wonder how they are doing now. Either way, they are happy I’m sure.

From Hankook Iibo, Feb 6, 2009

“Cooking and drumming… wipe away the pain in a child’s heart”

‘Amway Shelter’ embracing abused children

Hope beside you

Two story multiplex house in Suwon, Kyunggi-do. Chattering and laughing sounds of children are coming from the front door. It seems to stop for awhile. Before long, heavy noises of jumping down the stairs. About four of five children run to the empty lot with soccer ball. This is the shelter provided by Amway Korea and Non-Government Organization, Good Neighbors, where children damaged mentally and physically from abusive parents can heal and be cared for. It looks like an ordinary two story multiplex house as seen from without. However, each story is named ‘Good Neighbors’ or ‘Good Friends’ so you would know it’s a refuge for children.

The first floor is for girls and the second one is for boys. The basement is used for a group session or music class. As cases of abused children are increasing, the center’s numbers have increased to 6 boys and 11 girls protected at the shelter.

The shelter opened in 2003 with the support from Amway Korea. Since then, approximately 900 abused children have been helped to make a new life through mental and physical therapy.

In the case of Suwon shelter, four social workers are each working two shifts to take care of children and operate rehabilitation programs. More children have been abused physically and sexually, and neglected by their parents for a long time. Many have xenophobia and social maladjustment. Because of this concern, the rehabilitation programs are designed to heal these aftershocks.

Cooking and picnics with social workers are the favorite programs of the children. When the reporter starts talking about the cooking program, Min-Jung (12, an alias), who is usually expressionless, suddenly breaks into conversation. “I love to cook a delicious meal with the teachers. I’m really good at making fried rice so I want to be a really famous chief.”

While we talk about Min-Jung’s dream, one boy comes in with a sweaty face. She says, “This boy, named Young-Ho, is entering the high school this year. He is the oldest in the shelter,” Hye-Sun Kim, from the Amway Korea Corporate Social Responsibility team, prompts me to ask Young-Ho about his dream. “Since elementary school, I have wanted to be a doctor. How grateful I would be to help and treat people who are sick and tired. I’ll study hard to make this dream come true,” he said. Maybe because I am a stranger, he tries to read my face for awhile.

Soon Young-Ho, carefully but with a clear voice, starts telling me about his dream. He was badly damaged by mental and physical abuse from his stepmother and he came to the shelter a few years ago with the help of his neighbors. Because he got did not have a normal life, he has been avoiding people for a while but now he is well behaved enough to take care of younger boys and to make new friends by virtue of constant rehabilitation programs.

Suddenly we hear the sound of drumming. Eun-Joo Choi, a social worker, says that Min-Jung is playing a drum. We follow the sound to the basement, where there are electric guitars, drum and keyboard. The band is comprised of volunteers and children from the shelter. Min-Jung gets into the rhythm, playing a drum in an excess of mirth. According to Eun-Joo Choi, Min-Jung is not only good at cooking, but also she is talented at drumming.

Though the shelter is operated by Amway’s financial support and government aid from Suwon City, if we consider the circumstance of increasing child abused, it is still not enough to operate the shelter. “Suwon City provides 260 thousand Won for each story, a total of 520 thousands Won per month. However, it is still a not enough to treat and take care of 17 abused children,” says Hye-Sun Kim from Amway. She also says that she wishes more companies would participate in helping abused children.

“Normally it takes at least three to six months to treat one child and send him or her back home. Sometimes there are cases that require long-term treatment,” says Yoon-Mo Yang, a social worker from Good Neighbors. “I wish there will be more shelters to accommodate increasing abused children,” she adds.

“My heart always bleeds when I have to reject abused children because of the limited space and manpower,” says Chang-Pyo Hong, a manager of the counseling treatment team in Good Neighbors’ Kyunggi district office, which manages Suwon Shelter. “But I find my work worth doing when I see children healed of the wounds they carry when they first come to the shelter.”

  • 1 Comment

    • Guest says:

      Wow !!!
      What a moving story….we can only do so much, sometimes we wonder why we can’t help everyone – Only God knows the answer.

      Thank you
      Andrew C

      Leave a comment.
      Required fields are marked *

      Comments policy: Please note that comments are moderated.
      All comments are welcome as long as they are on topic, respectful, and do not advertise competing products or businesses. We reserve the right to remove without warning any and all offensive, unlawful, defamatory, or libelous comments, as well as any personal attacks or offensive language.