May 182016
 
Kids at Samsungwon receive their presents on Children's Day, May 5, 2016

Nothing but smiling faces on Children’s Day at Samsungwon, when the children received their presents.

May 5 was Children’s Day in Korea, and this holiday is widely celebrated by families throughout the country. Government offices and schools are closed, as are most companies. Children look forward to receiving presents and spending time with their families on this day. Kids at orphanages, however, often don’t have the same experience. For many, it’s just another boring day on which they stay at the orphanage without any special acknowledgement of the holiday.

For the last few years, KKOOM has tried to make Children’s Day special for the 62 kids at Samsungwon Children’s Home in Gumi, South Korea such as by providing special treats like pizza and fried chicken and also small gifts.

This year, we enlisted the help of Ms. Kyung Jo Noh, who recently retired from Samsungwon after more than 30 years of service as a house mother. We asked the children what present they would like to receive and gave the wish lists and approx. $900 USD to Ms. Noh to purchase the presents. Over the course of several days, she went shopping for all of the presents, checking the wish lists twice, thrice and many times over. We are extremely grateful for her time, care and effort, as we couldn’t have done this without her. We asked Ms. Noh to share her experiences with our readers, and what follows is her own reflection. We hope you enjoy it!

Kids and Orphans at Samsungwon Orphanage receive their presents on Children's Day, May 5, 2016

Kids at Samsungwon receive their presents on Children’s Day, May 5, 2016


Guest Post by Ms. Kyung Jo NOH (translated and edited by KKOOM)

First, thank you to KKOOM for making it possible to provide Children’s Day presents for the children at Samsungwon. After receiving the children’s wish lists and funds to purchase the presents, I was extremely happy and also a little worried about how I would fulfill all the wish lists.

After sorting the children’s requests by item type and store, I went to a big box store with a few Samsungwon staff members, and we were able to buy many of the boys’ gifts such as toys, clothing and sports equipment. The next day, I bought most of the girls’ presents, which were mostly cosmetics and also phone cases and small purses. The girls wanted a variety of cosmetics from several different stores, so I was worried about how to handle this. I went downtown with a friend from church, and an employee at one one of the cosmetic stores helped us locate all of the other stores. It ended up being easier than I expected.

I also wrapped all of the kids’ gifts and finished fulfilling the wish lists with Aimee, KKOOM President, on the third day.

The day before Children’s Day which was on May 5, I went with Aimee to deliver the presents to Samsungwon. We gave the presents for the children to each house mother, and I could see that all of the mothers were really pleased. As I was shopping for all of the gifts over several days, I kept thinking about how happy the kids would be to get the present they had asked for, and this was really rewarding for me. I sincerely had a good time, as I wrapped the presents and wrote each child’s name on his or her present.

It was also wonderful to see the children’s happy expressions in the pictures after they received their presents. I would sincerely like to thank KKOOM for making it possible to give the Samsungwon children these joyful presents. May KKOOM continue to flourish. Thank you.

[Original Text] 먼저 삼성원 아이들의 어린이날 선물을 준비하게 도와주신 꿈 단체에 감사를 드립니다. 저는 62명의 선물금과 아이들의 선물리스트를 받고 한편으로는 아주 기쁘고 한편으로는 어떻게 해야 할지 약간의 걱정도 되었습니다.

전체리스트를 다시 선물의 종류별, 가게별로 만들고, 첫째 날에는 마트에서 주로 남학생들의 선물(장난감, 옷, 체육용품등)을 삼성원 엄마들의 도움을 받아 조금 쉽게 구입하였습니다. 둘째 날에는 거의 여학생들의 선물(화장품, 폰 케이스, 작은 가방 등)을 준비하여야 했습니다. 대부분의 선물이 화장품이었는데 종류도 많고 가게이름도 많아서 염려가 되었습니다. 내가 아는 사모님과 함께 시내로 갔고, 시내의 한 화장품가게에서 다른 화장품가게의 이름을 물었더니 잘 알려주셔서 의외로 쉽게 구입하게 되었습니다.

그리고 아이들의 선물을 개별로 포장을 하고 개별로 이름도 적어놓았습니다. 마지막 날 아이들에게 같은 금액으로의 선물을 주기위해 개인적으로 조금씩 남은 선물금으로 에이미선생님과 함께 과자를 구입하여 본인들의 선물포장에 넣었습니다.

준비를 다 하고 4일 삼성원으로 선물을 전달하러 에이미선생님과 삼성원에 갔을 때, 각 집의 엄마들이 아이들의 선물을 받고 너무나 기뻐하는 모습이 보기에 좋았습니다. 개인 개인이 원하는 선물의 리스트대로 모두 준비를 하면서 아이들이 선물을 받고 기뻐할 모습을 생각하니 힘든 것도 즐거움이 되었고, 아이들의 선물을 포장을 하고 이름을 쓰고 하는 것이 나에게는 진정한 기쁨의 시간이었다. 또한 아이들이 선물을 받고 좋아하는 모습의 사진을 보니 더욱더 나에게는 큰 기쁨이 되었다. 삼성원아이들에게 기쁨의 선물을 준비하게 하신 꿈 단체에 진심으로 감사를 드립니다. 꿈 단체가 진심으로 번창하기를 바랍니다. 감사합니다.

노경조 드림

 Posted by at 7:37 pm

A Not-So-New Program

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Apr 132016
 

Children come into Korean orphanages for many reasons and at different times in their lives. Some are abandoned; some are abused. Others end up in orphanages because a permanent caretaker is unavailable, unable, or unwilling to take care of them for a variety of reasons, including incarceration, disability, or divorce.

Regardless the reason, a child’s arrival at an orphanage marks a new and very different chapter of that child’s life. It is important to make this transition as positive and smooth as possible for both the child and the caretakers. Part of that positive experience is making sure the new child has the clothing and basic necessities needed.WelcomeBoostProgram

At Samsungwon, an orphanage in Gumi, KKOOM has been helping aid this transition for many years from our discretionary funds. When word came that a new child was admitted to Samsungwon and there was an emergency need, KKOOM would help supply funds for clothing, a new stroller or a baby carrier – whatever was needed.

Samsungwon budgets to update the children’s clothing three times a year and to purchase new shoes at least once a year for each child. We do not want it misinterpreted that these children do not have the basic necessities of life.

But when a child shows up with virtually nothing in between these planned purchasing times, it can put a stress on Samsungwon’s resources and also stress on the new children. This is where KKOOM has been happy to help in previous years and provide those necessities.

We are excited to announce that we are formalizing this program this year as the “Welcome Boost Program”. We hope to provide a “boost” in the positive direction for each child coming into Samsungwon. Our goal is to help smooth the transition by providing:

  • Up to 150,000 krw (~$125 USD, $1 = 1,200 krw) for each newly admitted child to Samsungwon who needs clothing or other basic necessities, based on the senior caretaker’s reasonable discretion;
  • Additional funds if the child is an infant and needs additional basic necessities (e.g., stroller) or in KKOOM’s discretion, in consultation with the child’s senior caretaker.

As simple as this sounds, we are proud to have the capacity to formalize this program, thanks to our donors’ generous contributions. We are sure that the Welcome Boost Program will be a welcomed asset to the children and caregivers at Samsungwon.

Do you want to help? Please consider donating on a monthly basis to keep this program well-funded!

*At this time, the Welcome Boost Program is only available at Samsungwon orphanage due to resources and sustainability of the program.

 Posted by at 7:38 pm

12 Days of KKOOM: #12 Christmas Recap from KKOOM!

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Dec 252015
 
A child at an orphanage celebrates Christmas with KKOOM.

A child at an orphanage celebrates Christmas with KKOOM in Korea.

Merry Christmas from all of us at KKOOM and thank you for your support all year long! We are still resting and recovering from a wonderful week of Christmas events at orphanages in Korea, but on this 12th and final installment of our 12 Days of KKOOM, we wanted to share with you a video from our Christmas parties in Gumi and Gimcheon. Check it out below!

We’ll be back with you in the New Year to share more exciting developments and our plans for 2016!

 In case you missed any of our previous posts, here’s a full list of our 12 Days’ topics.

  1. Post-high School Young Adult Travel: Our Trip to America, part 1
  2. Our Trip to America, part 2
  3. Reflection from Board Member, Bill Downey: An Exciting Year with KKOOM
  4. Update from JD
  5. Jerusalem Ministry Camps
  6. Who is an orphan?
  7. Christmas Parties
  8. Levi’s Donation
  9. Preschool Program
  10. Flashback to 2004
  11. Merry Christmas from all of us at KKOOM!
  12. Christmas Recap

If you haven’t already done so, we invite you to consider making a year-end contribution to support our work with Korean orphans in 2016. You can make a US tax-deductible contribution by clicking the “donate” button on the top right. Thank you so much for your generosity and interest in our work!

 Posted by at 10:00 am

12 Days of KKOOM: #10 Flashback to 2004

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Dec 232015
 
The first pre-KKOOM Samsungwon gift drive with Samsungwon staff members and KKOOM co-founder, Aimee Jachym (third from right)

The first pre-KKOOM Samsungwon gift drive with Samsungwon staff members and KKOOM co-founder, Aimee Jachym (third from right),

For the first Samsungwon donation project in December 2004 we purchased socks, underwear, hats and gloves at Namdaemun Market in Seoul and delivered them to the home in Gumi. This project took place 3 years before KKOOM was officially founded in 2007.

 Posted by at 3:58 am

12 Days of KKOOM: #9 Preschool Program

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Dec 222015
 
JY arrived at Samsungwon when he was about 2 months old, and he is now 28 months old. He has been attending preschool with KKOOM's help since March 2015.

JY arrived at Samsungwon when he was about 2 months old, and he is now 28 months old. He has been attending preschool with KKOOM’s help since March 2015.

In the fall of 2011, we discovered that toddlers ages 2 and 3 (international age) living in Korean orphanages are unable to attend preschool because the government does not provide funding until the children turn 4. With the help of a local preschool in Gumi, we began sending 2 and 3 year olds to preschool at a discounted tuition rate. To date, we’ve been able to send 7 children to preschool two years earlier than they would otherwise be able to attend without KKOOM fund.

The most recent KKOOM preschool child is JY. He arrived at Samsungwon when he was about 2 months old. He was abandoned on the steps of a nearby hospital and is one of the few “true orphans” at Samsungwon. At first he was very malnourished, but once he began eating regularly and growing healthily, his house mom at Samsungwon discovered that he was quite an active little baby with a lot of curiosity.

Previously, we sent children to preschool beginning at 24 months, but given JY’s rapid development, we decided to send him to preschool at 20 months this March.

JY's many facces

JY, 28 months old, has a variety of curious and cute faces.

We were a little worried about how he would adjust, but he was very excited to ride in the preschool van with the other older children from the orphanage when it came to pick him on the first day. Ever since then, he has enjoyed riding in the van.

As a result of attending preschool, JY has learned the names of animals, types of cars, and other common items. He’s also good at putting together blocks, like Duplos. At preschool, JY also has the opportunity to meet other toddlers his age and learn how to play together.

If JY did not have the opportunity to go to preschool, he would spend the weekdays at home with the Samsungwon staff and would not get to interact with others his age. His house mother predicts that JY would not know nearly as many words and would be behind others his age when the time finally came for him to go to school. After seeing JY and others to go to preschool with KKOOM’s support, JY’s house mother says she can’t imagine how bored JY would be if he had to stay at home all day.

 Posted by at 7:07 am

12 Days of KKOOM: #8 Levi’s Donation

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Dec 212015
 
Levi's Donation

Levi’s donated 1,196 sweatshirts to KKOOM through the US NGO “Good360”.

This fall, the Levi’s clothing factory in Seoul, South Korea donated 1,196 hooded sweatshirts to KKOOM and asked us to distribute them to various children’s homes and other people in need. We received this request through a US nonprofit organization called “Good 360“. The sweatshirts were all brand new and retailed for 59,000 Korean won ($50 USD).

With the help of friends and volunteers in Gumi, South Korea, we distributed the sweatshirts to 12 different children’s homes, special needs facilities and other small nonprofit organizations throughout Korea that benefit the poor, including orphans and North Korean refugees.

IMG_0850

Recipients of the Levi’s sweatshirts were very happy to get such a nice and unexpected present.

Everyone who received the new sweatshirts really enjoyed them. We heard, especially at the special needs facilities, the children there do not get many opportunities to wear new brand-name clothes. The organizations where we distributed the shirts were also looking forward to be able to use them for special Christmas and year-end events. We hope that there is another opportunity in the near future for KKOOM to be able to use its contacts to help like this in the future.

 Posted by at 4:49 am

12 Days of KKOOM: #7 Christmas Parties

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Dec 202015
 

KKOOM Christmas Parties KKOOM hosted Christmas events on December 19 and 20 in Gumi and Gimcheon, respectively. On the 19th, about 30 English-speaking volunteers visited Samsungwon and helped put on an afternoon of fun Christmas activities for the 64 children living there in Gumi. File_001Everyone had Korean barbecue for dinner together at a nearby restaurant, and then in the evening, some of the children showed off their singing and dancing talents. At the end of the night, each of the children received their Christmas presents, which they had been waiting a long time for.

 

The next day, KKOOM board members Aimee Jachym and Bill Downey went to neighboring Gimcheon to visit Emmanuel Children’s Home with about 5 other native English speakers. There, they passed out gifts after the children’s Christmas worship service at the church on the premises. The children also performed some dance routines and sang some carols in celebration of Christmas. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch of grilled duck at a restaurant across the street from Emmanuel.
File_000

 Posted by at 9:00 am

12 Days of KKOOM: #6 – Who is an orphan?

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Dec 192015
 

This post is adapted from an email I sent to our supporters on Thanksgiving Day this year. -Aimee


KKOOM Gifts

Who is an orphan? A dictionary will tell you that an orphan is a child whose parents are deceased or otherwise unknown. Yet, my experiences during these past 11.5 years in Korea’s orphanage homes have painted a much different picture. In Korea’s 200-some orphanages, there are relatively few “legal orphans” who fit the dictionary definition. Rather most children end up in orphanages because a permanent caretaker is unavailable, unable, or unwilling to take care of them for a variety of reasons, including incarceration, disability, or divorce. These children almost always have living biological parents, yet they rarely are able to form any kind of loving parent-child relationship, such as like I formed with my parents, despite being born some 6,750 miles away from them.

By all ordinary definitions, I was an orphan. My record says that I was found in a box in front of someone’s house in Daegu when I was just a few days old (doctor’s guess). Yet, I’ve never gone to look for that house or that someone, despite my 36 trips back and forth to Korea since 2004. Why? Because I’m no longer an orphan. I know my parents, and I know my belonging.

And it’s from this place of certainty that — thanks to KKOOM supporters — I’ve been able to co-found and lead KKOOM, an organization that has been supporting kids whose lives could use more belonging since 2007. You see, an orphan is someone who lacks a true sense of familial belonging, that bond of love that forever connects a child to an adult — regardless of blood or circumstance. And each of the children I’ve met, cared for, and mentored in these Korean orphanage homes has the same needs – to be permanently loved and to believe they belong.

November was National Adoption Month, and it drew a bit of attention on social media. Personally, I’m thankful to have been adopted, and I know many others like me share these sentiments. Yet because each child and circumstance is different, I cannot, however, with conviction state that adoption is always the best answer for Korea’s orphanage children. There are far too many failed adoptions and incidents of “rehoming”, or even returning children to orphanages, both within Korea and internationally. There is also a new, welcome push in Korea to support single-mothers so children don’t have to be put in orphanages. And even in some rare cases, I would testify under oath that kids have found “real parental love” in orphanages and through their tireless caretaker “parents”, and I would not, personally, remove them from that state of belonging, especially at older ages. There are still other stories I can write, having seen fierce jealousy and heartache when one child is adopted from an orphanage and others are left behind. And then there will always be a need for temporary foster care, even if “temporary” means an entire childhood.

So what is my response? Personally, KKOOM is my response. “Kkoom” (pronounced “koom”) means “dream” in Korean, and through KKOOM’s work, since 2007, we help Korean orphans dream bigger dreams and build brighter futures, starting from where they are today, in these orphanage homes. We may not be able to permanently place each child in a better environment, but we can certainly help them prepare to make their way toward one. We can build their confidence, broaden their horizons, and help them find their sense of belonging in and connection to the greater world, and since KKOOM’s founding, we’ve been doing just that. Hopefully this 12 Days of KKOOM blog series gives you an idea of what we’ve been up to and where we are headed in the new year.

Thank you for reading and for your support of KKOOM!

 Posted by at 8:50 am
Dec 172015
 

This year KKOOM was proud to provide financial support once again to Jerusalem Ministry‘s Winter Arts and Crafts Camp and Summer Soccer Camp. Jerusalem Ministry, a Seoul-based nonprofit organization, puts these camps on for at-risk children living in Seoul area children’s homes and is supported by local businesses and donors.JMsoccer

The Jerusalem Ministry 7th Annual Arts and Crafts Camp was held from January 20 – 22, 2015 at Youngnak Church in Seoul. The camp was attended by 38 girls from different children homes around Seoul and 45 volunteers. KKOOM funds helped pay for the transportation for the girls to travel to and from the camp each day.

The 8th Annual Soccer Camp was held from August 10-12 at Yongsan Army Base in Seoul. There were 57 boys in attendance from 8 different Seoul children’s homes and 45 volunteers. KKOOM funds helped pay for the entrance fees for the pool party on the last day of the camp.

Check out the videos from each of the camps below.


 


 Posted by at 11:56 pm