Housewife starts group to assist poor studentsRemembering her own hardship as a poor young student, a 39-year-old housewife living in Seocho district, Seoul, formed a scholarship club, called “Holssi” (spore), with 42 other housewives two months ago to help students in need. They intend to each contribute 10,000 won ($10.70) each month and give the money to impoverished students.
Ko Il-sik, the sixth child of seven siblings, lost her father to illness when she was five years old. “Barely making ends meet, my mother insisted I start working in factories like my older brothers and sisters after I finished primary school,” Ms. Ko said.
When she was in sixth grade, Ms. Ko left her home in Yeongwol county, Gangwon province, to move to Seoul where her uncle lived. She lived with her uncle’s family of six in a small room in Sinrim-dong, southwestern Seoul. After working in a garment factory for two months, where she folded and packaged businees shirts, she returned to Yeongwol to finish middle school. She fought with her mother for six months over whether she should go on to high school, and had to pay her own tuition.
“I told myself that I wouldn’t work in a factory all my life so I needed to study further,” Ms. Ko said.
While working in a factory as a sixth grader, Ms. Ko said she learned how badly women in factories are treated. “I thought it was because they were doing degrading work,” she said.
After graduating from high school, Ms. Ko found a job at Wonju Christian Hospital. There she met her husband who had come to report on the hospital for MBC. She was married at the age of 21 and now has two children.
Ms. Ko said she named the club “Holssi” as she wanted to spread the spirit of philanthropy in the same way spores propagate. The club has collected about 1 million won so far and after saving one year, plans to select about five recipients for scholarships.
“I want to help poor students who study hard but are not eligible to receive government financial aid,” Ms. Ko said.
by Limb Jae-un