Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Volunteering in Korea

Angel's House is a residence for disabled people with no one to turn to, it is located in Goyangsi Dukyangu and it was founded by Jang Soon-Ok in 1993, who not only was a disabled person herself with spine problems, but also had a disabled daughter. This is why she decided to open a place that could house people of various ages and with different kinds of disabilities, and help them out.
Jang Soon-Ok is known as the "125 cm Tall Tiny Angel" because of her height due to her spinal problem and, of course, because of her selfless labor with the disabled.

Picture borrowed from the Group's FB Page

The Angel House has around 50 disabled residents and one of the things that makes it unique is the fact that the disabled residents support themselves by making (or more like assembling) crafts they later sell the popular low-cost store Daiso in South Korea; in my opinion, that is something not only worth mentioning but also worth baring in mind to remind us all that no matter what conditions and situations life puts you through, you will always be able to make it as long as you’re willing to fight for it!


The Angel House opens its doors to volunteers on the first and third Saturdays of every month. Each volunteer gives a 10,000 won donation to cover the cost of food for the day. The remainder of the money is donated to the Angel House to benefit the residents. Some of the chores the volunteers are responsible for are: cleaning the facilities, doing laundry, cooking, and providing basic personal hygiene for the residents. When the work is all done, they get to eat, talk, and socialize with the residents.

Personally, I always enjoy volunteering but I think I’ve only had experience volunteering in the Arts field, which –for me- was not only rewarding but also amazing; however, volunteering and giving your time with people is a completely different thing, it’s much more fulfilling and you actually feel like you’re helping out. 

When someone talks about “giving back” people usually imagines celebrities being altruistic and “giving back” to the community as a thank you for everything they’ve got: fame, fortune and whatnot. However, giving back is not only for celebrities and/or rich people, giving back is something we can (and probably should) all do. In my case, I consider myself to be very lucky and blessed with the life I’ve got, the people, the experiences and all the things in it, so I wanted to “give back” and contribute to the society even if it was a little of my time and care. I knew it might be a bit of a hard experience for me as I’ve dealt with disabled people before (my Mom) -hard in the sensitive kind of way- but I also knew I would be able to help them and share my time with them and treat them like normal people, because not everyone is capable of that, to be honest.

There was this lady who had a purse hanging across her body and she had this little phonebook with her, she’d take it out and ask each of us to write down our name and phone number in it (all in Korean, of course, as none of them speak English), I thought she was so cute and endearing! There was also this guy, a very smart man, he’d tell us how to assemble the crafts properly and made sure to let us know if/when we were doing it wrong, but in a nice way and when you were doing it right, he’d say “good job!” (again, in Korean). For me, that kind of things are the ones that fill your heart with love, your mind with peace and your body with good energy; and I don’t mean to sound all hippie here and all, but it is what it is.

The general experience was just alright, really, as I was expecting to spend a bit more time with the people rather than the crafting part; however, I enjoyed it and would definitely do it again.

If you’re in Korea and would like to volunteer, you can check out the Angel’s House FB Group or find any other place where you can do so, if you’re not in Korea, I’m sure you can always find places where your help is much needed, so don’t be afraid or wait until you’re rich or a celebrity to give back. We can all contribute a little now!

Special Thanks to Kiki for inviting us to share this great experience!

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