A season to care for othersYan, 11, is the son of a refugee family from Congo in Africa. Yesterday, Santa Claus visited his home, where his mother was sick in bed while his poor father was idling around. Upon reading the story on the distressing situation of the family carried by the JoongAng Ilbo, a social welfare organization filled the family’s empty refrigerator with food. It also decided to provide living expenses for the family and medical care for the mother. We also heard the good news that a female university student volunteered to teach Yan Korean.
Min-su, the 7-year-old son of an illegal immigrant family from Bangladesh has also had an inspiring Christmas. A private foundation has decided to provide him with a scholarship until he finishes high school. He also got a Korean auntie. He was born in Korea, so he is 100 percent Korean. In a test of Korean at school, he scored 90 points, placing him second in his class. Nevertheless, he is constantly worried about deportation. In his half-underground room, where a fluorescent bulb must be on even during daytime, the warm wind of charity has arrived.
With the advent of the global age, the needy people in our neighborhood have become diverse. We now have new types of neighbors who are discriminated against and isolated because of differences in religion, customs, skin color and language. If we look around, there are about 2,400 refugees and over 200,000 illegal immigrants. They shrink at the cold glances of their neighbors, but the worst kind of neighbor for them is the cold weather, which they never experienced in their native lands. In particular, there are more than 20,000 “unregistered immigrant children” who speak only Korean because they were born in Korea, but are not officially recognized as Koreans.
Of course, there are a lot of needy neighbors whom we should take care of. There are many elderly people who grow old alone suffering from poverty and disabilities. But the immigrants are also our neighbors in a global village and they breathe the same air standing next to us. They need both material help and our warm hearts, open to understanding their situation. In a global age, we are in a situation where we need to care for our new needy neighbors. If we share 1 percent of our possessions with them, it will bring them great happiness.
It is said that the enthusiasm for charity is not that high this year. The thermometer of the social welfare joint fund-raising association recorded 47.7 degrees yesterday. The meter goes up one degree at a time whenever 1 percent of its target amount of 221.2 billion won ($188.5 million) is raised. We look forward to seeing the meter record 100 degrees soon as the minds of the people grow relaxed as the economy recovers.