Relief worker dismantles wallsWhen Lim Hye-jin set foot in Domue, Mozambique, a year ago, she quickly discovered that it was going to take more than money or medical aid to help out the poverty and AIDS-stricken community.
“When I arrived there, I could feel that the natives were skeptical about what I could do. I was probably the first Korean woman they had ever met. They not only avoided conversation, but didn’t even look at me,” Ms. Lim said.
Domue is a farming region in northern Mozambique; half of the residents are infected with the AIDS virus. According to a 2004 report from the United Nations, Mozambique has the lowest gross national product in the world; and 14 percent of the population are infected with AIDS.
The 26-year-old worker for World Vision focused on becoming part of the community and followed the lifestyle patterns of those living in Domue. She slept in a house made of straw and ate corn gruel and a few kernels of fried beans for meals.
“I had to change myself in order for them to change their attitude toward me,” Ms. Lim said.
After a week, she could feel that the locals’ hearts were opening. They started taking interest in her suggestions to improve their living circumstances for a more healthy life.
Ms. Lim then began various development programs in Domue with the regional government and the World Vision headquarters. With funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency, she built two nurseries and helped increase the number of teachers at two local schools. She also set up 15 orphanages for children with AIDS who had been abandoned by their parents.
“AIDS prevention and crop increases are major issues. There is much left to do, but now, I can read hope in the eyes of the children,” she said.
by Lee Han-won