Spirits lifted when these people reach out to touchAngels are for real.
In Dongducheon, Gyeonggi province, 1,638 “angels” are bringing hope to those stricken by such diseases as leukemia and cancer, to orphans, and the elderly who have no one to talk to.
These angels are of the civilian variety, however, the kind who help their neighbors without expecting any payment. Appropriately enough, their headquarters is called 1004, cheonsa, which also means angel when pronounced in Korean.
Organized in March 2002 by 21 citizens here, this grassroots group has already reached its goal of 1,004 members in just one year. So they recently increased their membership goal to 5,004 people.
All members donate 10,000 won ($8) every month. In addition, they raise money by taking turns running a grocery store, which one angel handed over to the group. Since last November, 1004 has raised enough money from the store to establish a fund for the needy.
The “Dongducheon Angels” are not super human. They are average people -- civil servants, a firefighter, a nurse, the CEO of a company, and the director of a kindergarten fill their ranks. One ambassador of goodwill is a single mother in her 40s supporting her kids with money earned by selling pancakes at a market. Even some children who have become the de facto heads of households have joined the angelic mission.
In fact, some angels would actually appreciate help from others due to their own trying circumstances.
Consider Lee Jong-sam, a 37-year-old computer programmer who suffers from cerebral palsy and needs a wheelchair to get around. With great difficulty, he commutes to an office located below street level, where he maintains the angels’ Web page.
Determined to help more, he approaches neighbors in his wheelchair when he feels they are suffering. “Actually, although they seem to have no problem physically, there are so many people who need help,” Mr. Lee says.
The Angels recently received a spiritual boost in the form of famous athletes and entertainers who have signed up to assist.
“It is as if citizens are playing the role of the social security network to empower the unfortunate to keep going” said Gong Ji-tae, an angel and minister at Nakwon church. For more information, call (031) 862-7004.
by Jeon Ik-jin
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