[Letters] Opening our hearts to Haiti

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[Letters] Opening our hearts to Haiti

The news from Haiti is miserable. Numerous people are either dead, missing or trapped under the debris and most everything has been destroyed in the area struck by an earthquake.

People in Haiti are suffering from hunger and fear. Without international aid and attention, I believe Haiti cannot recover from the damage.

Many countries including Korea are trying to help citizens of Haiti, however, Koreans are not that sympathetic toward Haitians compared to other OECD countries. Koreans passively support solutions to international problems.

A few months ago, I watched a talk show interviewing the former team leader of the NGO World Vision, Han Bi-ya. On the show, when asked why she had chosen World Vision, which works for international refugees, instead of helping Korean people, she answered: “Korea is the only country that pulled its economic status from aid recipient to aid supporter in a remarkably short period. It is about time to widen our views to global problems and to become global citizens.” As she said this, I came to believe that Koreans should concentrate more on helping third-world countries.

Some people argue that the Korean government should take care of poor Koreans here rather than support international refugees. They say that many people in Korea are still suffering from hunger and our welfare system is not good enough to support them.

Therefore, they strongly insist that the Korean government should focus on building a stable national welfare system and providing sufficient care for Koreans before offering aid internationally. Moreover, they insist that Korean citizens’ tax money is for Koreans only.

However, Korea is a member of the G-20 countries. This means that the status of Korea has now reached the level where Koreans are responsible for helping those in need like other countries helped Korea during the war and even after the war. Without international help, Koreans could not have rebuilt the nation after the war, and we might not have been able to reach our present economic status. I believe that we should show the world the same compassion that they once showed us.

A few years ago, I believed that giving aid to other poor countries is extravagant for Koreans. However, nowadays, I trust that providing help is not about economic sufficiency, but about generous spirits that care about others. As I have previously mentioned, Korea is one of the only countries that was able to switch its economic status from the very bottom to the top.

I believe Korean citizens can save numerous people’s lives as well as Koreans’ by offering our sympathy and attention to the world.

Kim Yoo-jin,

Soong-duk Girl’s High School

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