Moms’ group gives to Korea

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Moms’ group gives to Korea


Members of the Australian Mother’s Mission and Korean single mothers make spaghetti at Eastern Social Welfare Society on Monday. AMM members have volunteered at the adoption agency every year since 2005. By Oh Sang-min

A group of mothers got together to make spaghetti on Monday afternoon in the dining hall of Eastern Social Welfare Society, an adoption agency in Changcheon-dong, Seoul.

But this was no ordinary gathering. It included Korean single mothers in their late teens to early 20s and members of the Australian Mother’s Mission, a volunteer group whose members include women who adopted Korean children.

The group also has members who have connections with Korean adoptees and who sponsor Korean children. AMM members have visited Korea every October since 2005 to volunteer at ESWS.

Group members Deborah Finkel, Kelly Cameron, Carol Exton and Sharn Day landed in Seoul on Oct. 1.

Finkel has led the group since 2008. She adopted two Korean children, one in 1998 and another in 2003, and also sponsors three children in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi. She also has two biological children. This is Finkel’s 11th visit to Korea.

In addition to her work with AMM, Finkel also raises funds for the Australian Korean Friendship Group. She has been a member of that group for the past 12 years.

Although AMM could send donations from abroad, the group is committed to working here, Finkel said.

“It’s better to raise money and bring things and interact with the babies and foster moms,” she said. “Yes, it would be easier if we did these things in Australia, but I think you have a better connection when you are actually here.”

Exton, whose son and daughter-in-law adopted a Korean boy, is making her third visit to Korea since she joined the group in 2007.

“If my grandson had not been adopted from Korea, my son would not have become a father,” Exton said. “When I see my son holding his baby in happiness, there is nothing else.”

Cameron sponsors a three-year-old boy at Jacob’s Home in Pyeongtaek. She encouraged Day, the group’s youngest and newest member, to join the group. This is Cameron’s second trip to Korea with the group but her fifth visit to ESWS.

Day is not a mother, but became a member of the group because she believes in the group’s mission.

“Giving money is not enough. Giving time is more personal and gratifying,” she said.

Through ESWS, the group made kkakdugi [cubed radish kimchi] at the Seodaemun Community Social Welfare Center, delivered lunches to the elderly and played with children.

They also contributed to a bazaar at Hyundai Department Store on Oct. 6.

“Before coming to Seoul in October, they collect honey, vitamins, hand-made sweaters and baby clothes [to donate],” Kim Tae-kyong, director of ESWS said. “An amazing part is that they prepare and raise funds for this volunteer trip throughout the year.”

The group raises funds for its trips through special events such as raffles and auctions. They also sell honey and chocolate, Finkel said.

“When I come to Korea, it’s like coming home,” Finkel said. “It’s a really weird feeling. When I leave Korea I get sad, too.”

The group left Korea on Oct. 12.

By Yoo Sun-young Contributing writer []
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