Students open hearts, and veins, to migrants

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Students open hearts, and veins, to migrants


A group of people waited anxiously in line, Wednesday, as four Bangladeshi men busily fried mixed dough with onion and mung beans to make the traditional dish pyaju and two Vietnamese girls wrapped tempting dim sum.
The people, both foreigners and Koreans, were attending a charity blood drive organized by YBM, a language institute, and Migrant Workers in Korea, and were tasting the food in exchange for their blood donation cards, issued for donating blood.
The cards were to assist migrant workers undergoing medical treatment here. In Korea, blood donors get official blood donation cards and in an emergency can get blood for free with the card.
On the sidelines, migrant workers from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia and Mongolia provided traditional food to those taking part in the donation drive.
There are 500,000 foreign workers residing in Korea, but 30 percent of them are illegal migrants who have no health insurance.
“I heard that many times when we need blood, not enough has been donated, so we have to buy it,” said Alam Mohammed, a 31-year-old man from Bangladesh who spoke in English. He works at the Migrant Workers in Korea office in Seongnam, Gyeonggi province. The group focuses on migrant workers’ rights and also runs a medical clinic for them.
“I regularly donate blood, and wanted to do so today because I felt sympathy for foreign workers in need,” said Ha Min-sun, a YBM student.
Kang Ho-young, a senior executive at YBM, said that last year’s event collected 2,400 blood donation cards for both children’s hospitals as well as migrant workers. As many workers are from South Asia, which has been hit by many natural disasters this year, the organizers decided to donate all the cards to migrant workers.
The event will last until Dec. 3. and YBM will give a 10-percent discount on course fees to its students who donate blood or cards.

by Kim Soe-jung
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