Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission

We are organized to improve and enrich the lives of children living in orphanages and group homes in South Korea; to support these youth after they leave the institutions and start their own lives by providing post-high-school-graduation education, support services, and resources; to aid the institutions and staff that devote their resources to the upbringing of these youth and spread awareness and build compassion for these children.
Jan 23, 2014

Girls' Wishes Come True

Most little girls dream of new toys, field trips, or other exciting things. My guess is that most little girls never stop to consider their furniture -- things like their dresser drawers or bookshelves. But up until a few months ago, the girls at Samsungwon, an orphanage in Gumi, South Korea, did not have their own dressers. Rather, they had their own drawer or two in a dresser shared with two or three other girls. They shared bedroom closets and desks with 3-4 other girls, so they really had never experienced furniture that was truly their own.

That changed this fall when KKOOM had the opportunity to replace all of their furniture (for approx. 35 girls) with new pieces. Every middle school and high school girl now has their own wardrobe or dresser (depending on the space constraints of each room), and all of the girls have their own space for clothing, books, and other belongings.

One of the staff members told me, "the girls were so excited about their new furniture that some had trouble sleeping the first night." This really surprised me. I remember the restless nights before the first day of school, excited to see my friends, or before my birthday... but no, I can honestly say, the prospect of a new dresser has never excited me quite like that.

The girls also texted me pictures (which are included in this report) with notes like "our furniture is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pretty! You have no idea!" and "We are really happy. We haven't been this happy in a long time."

Most of us, the supporters of KKOOM, get to live pretty comfortable lives. We have chairs to sit in, desks to study at, tables to eat upon, etc., and we give these items just passing glances and thoughts as we go about our daily lives. But through the lenses of these 35 girls, and the impact that your gifts have had on them, I've seen these basic necessities in a whole new light.

It's not just furniture that you've helped provide. It's a mark of ownership, and thereby, it's a mark of identity. You've helped give these girls a stake in their own lives. Thank you.

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Dec 30, 2013

Introducing Little Minho

Minho in the hospital, fall 2011
Minho in the hospital, fall 2011

Thanks to your support, Minho is about to enter his second year of preschool. He'll turn 3 this winter. This is the story of how we met and how he's doing. ~ Aimee, KKOOM President and Co-founder


I first met Minho when he was just a few months old. He was born with special needs to a single mother who was already struggling to raise other children, so I met him when he arrived at the orphanage where I had been living and volunteering in South Korea.

He was extremely small for his age. There was another baby boy the same age as Minho at the same orphanage, and that other boy grew more than twice as fast. That other boy, although also an orphan, is "normal," whereas Minho is "special."

I found out just how special he is when I spent a week with him in the hospital over the long Korean Thanksgiving holiday in the fall of 2011. He was hospitalized with a virus/cold, which most babies could've fought off at home. However, for this then 10-month-old, it was a near-death battle, complete with his peeling skin, non-existent appetite and constant crying.I myself lost 5 pounds that week -- mostly due to the fact that Korean hospital food is as horrible as the American kind.

Anyway, it was during this time that I found that Minho has a rare birth defect which left him born with abnormally small kidneys, which are unable to process out toxins. This is why his body wasn't able to fight off the cold virus and why the doctors warned that growing up in an orphanage would be even more difficult for this little baby.

Fast forward now two years, and Minho is nearly 3 years old. He learned to stand by himself earlier this year, and he's just now beginning to walk with the help of a guiding adult hand. This might not sound like much progress, but having listened to doctors tell us that the slightest infection could rehospitalize and potentially endanger his life at any given moment, each small step for this little guy is a victory.

Minho's been learning to walk and develop his motor skills with the help of his teachers at a special needs preschool he attends five days a week, from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm. His teachers are trained in special education, social work, and physical therapy. KKOOM began sending him there, with the orphanage's consent, in March.

We learned that most Korean children with special needs can get these educational and therapeutic services for free with vouchers from the government. However, we were dumbfounded to discover that since Minho is an orphan, and receives government support to be raised in an orphanage, he is in eligible for government support for his special needs preschool. Hence, KKOOM supports his educational and developmental expenses at approximately $300 USD per month, which is still cheap by American standards.

Once Minho's body grows stronger, he will be able to attend a regular preschool but probably with children one or two years younger than himself. Still, it will be a significant day for him and all of us to see him growing up "normally."

Your generous support of KKOOM has helped us help Minho and other little ones. The educational and developmental opportunties you've helped create for these Korean orphan toddlers are truly life-changing.

If you'd like to continue to help Minho and other orphans, please consider making an additional donation of any amount to support this important work. Thank you for your ongoing support! Happy New Year!


If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at ajachym@kkoom.org or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you!

Minho
Minho's First Birthday, winter 2012
Minho, Christmas 2013
Minho, Christmas 2013

Links:

Nov 19, 2013

Fall 2013 KKOOM College Scholarship Recipients

Fall 2013 KKOOM College Scholarship Recipients
Fall 2013 KKOOM College Scholarship Recipients

This fall KKOOM was able to award college scholarships of approximately $500 USD (500,000 Korean won) to 5 students who grew up in a Korean orphanage. The students use these funds to off-set their educational costs and pay for things like dormitory expenses, lab fees, and extra curriculars.

One of the students no longer has to commute 1.5 hours each way to school where he is studying for a Master's in Divinity. Instead, he can just live in the campus dormitory Monday through Friday. He still comes home on the weekends because he is an assistant pastor at his local church, which is attended by many of the same kids he grew up with in the orphanage.

Another student is using her KKOOM scholarship money to help pay her bills in her small off-campus apartment. She's in her last semester of nursing school and is enjoying the freedom of living on her own and having a little extra money to got out to eat and hang out with friends in her limited free time.

As always, if you have questions, you may contact me directly at ajachym [at] kkoom [dot] org.

Thank you for your support!

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