중앙데일리

To Keep The Promise To The Children

Mar 28,2000
"I can hardly express my gratitude toward the civic groups that gave out the free instant noodles to children. They were able to feed themselves by either boiling or eating the noodles raw while I went out for work..."

These are the words of a 30-year-old single mother living in the poor part of Kwanak-gu, Seoul as she points to the box of instant noodle sitting in the corner of her room on March 26. It was her daughter (11) who received the box full of noodles two days ago as the woman was out working all day.

Another 10 year old girl, who lives with her grandparents and her ill father in makeshift house in Hangdong Kuro-gu, Seoul, happened to benefit from a free meal for two consecutive days thanks to a soup kitchen run by a church.

The very sight of children starving every weekend due to impoverished conditions at home is heartbreaking. It is hard for them to get even a single meal, unlike school days when they are provided a school lunch. It is hard to believe the current rhetoric about escaping the economic crisis with the family's room smelling of a rotten kimchi.

The goevernment last month promised to provide 'a warm lunch and dinner on weekends' to the 16,400 starving children througthout the nation.'Whether it be through social welfare organizations, restaurants, or lunchboxes.' The government ensured people that 'no more starvation shall take place.' The government even specified the exact period of time when lunches would be given saying, 'starting from March.' So far it is only charities that have taken notice of the hungry children.

One official in the Ministry of Health and Welfare stated "We have already established the basic rules. The payment for the food shall be payed by district offices in advance and is estimated near the end of the previous month." He then added, "There must be some kind of mistake if there is talk of children still starving."

Because the initial government policy involved so many ministries, these ministries all ended up sending 'official documents' and 'rules,' but they neglected one issue; no one check the actual results.

Thus government in the end did not keep 'The Promise.' The officials should once againg revise the aid system and make sure it supplies regular meals to the children in need.




by Kang Hong-joon




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