Korean Red Cross supports migrants with two programmes
“We try to find the people who need our assistance, and this means sometimes searching the poorest areas and asking the locals if they know of someone who is in serious trouble,” says Ji-Hye Kim, one of the young volunteers who is actively taking part in the Korean Red Cross Windmill of Hope programme in Dobong-gu district in Seoul.
By Hler Gudjonsson, IFRC
This ambitious programme provides humanitarian aid to migrants and multicultural families who have settled in the Republic of Korea to begin a new life. The programme also addresses the needs of vulnerable children, youth and the elderly. Every week Ji-Hye, who is 27 years old pays visits to her designated beneficiaries, ensuring that they are receiving necessary help.
But is not only through the Windmill of Hope that the Korean Red Cross has been addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in the country.
In a large facility in the basement of the Red Cross Community Centre in Chongo district, a group of dedicated volunteers meets regularly to bake and prepare food parcels, the air is filled with the sweet smell of fresh cakes.
This work provides important humanitarian relief to hundreds of vulnerable families in the district, but it also represents a valuable opportunity for social contact because many of these women are foreigners who are married to Korean men, which is the case in most multi-cultural families in the country.
“The Red Cross makes me feel much safer living in Korea,” says one of the women, Yuko Murakami, (second right) who migrated from Japan to Korea when she married her Korean husband. “We have been struggling a lot because of financial problems but when we had the greatest difficulties we received a lot of support from the Red Cross.”
Yuko recalls one Christmas when her children were quite small and they got bikes and dolls from the Red Cross. “They were so happy to get these Christmas gifts, and we would have been unable to afford such things ourselves. Because of all this support and friendship, whether it is hot or cold, I feel very welcome in Korea.”
“I had a very hard time after I first came here,” says Hyun Chong, (right, holding pastries) who migrated to Seoul from North-Korea. “I suffered from serious depression, which made it hard for me to hold a job, but my friends here at the Red Cross were extremely supportive.”
The friendship and personal support that she has received has also inspired her with a profound wish to help others.
“During my worst periods of desperation I was unable to think about anything but myself. I never used to pay a thought to others or what I could do to make their suffering less. Now when I am cooking here at the Red Cross Community Centre, it is the thought of helping someone that is in need that gives me a purpose and makes me happy. It is through this work as a Red Cross volunteer that I feel that I can bond with society here in my new country.”