Dear DDing Dong Supporters
There has been a lot of tragic news recently. We are going through an extremely hard time at Ddingdong at the moment, with the loss of a number of transgender community members, including former army staff sergeant Byun Hee-soo and writer Lee Eun-yong, who Ddingdong had connection with.
Everyone from Ddingdong office attended the funeral of Byun Hee-soo. When we were there, a lot of our (LGBTQ+ youth) counselees sent us messages with their deepest condolences and worries about our mental health, and some of the them even showed up to be with us. The fact that we had to be at a funeral and worry about each other in the first place is very upsetting, however, we are gaining the strength to get up once again thanks to our thoughtful, caring counselees.
We are back at the office now but it is still extremely tough for all of us. It is hard to focus on work, when all we can think of are the faces of the ones we lost. We are not sure how much more time we would need to be okay again, but we know we will get there. It may take a while, but we will eventually get our smiles back and meet, and care for our LGBTQ+ youth counselees.
We would like to thank all the sponsors and donors who support Ddindong. We are doing our best to stop blaming ourselves, get over this difficult time, and provide the best counselling and support to LGBTQ+ youths in need for help. We will listen to transgender, genderqueer, non-binary youths even more carefully, cheer them, and support them. We hope you would keep supporting us and be in this journey with us.
#2021 gathering for Ddingdong’s volunteers aka “Ddingga Ddingga”s.
We welcomed some new volunteers for the first time in a while. This year we will work with a total of 12 volunteers - 6 existing volunteers and 6 new volunteers. We held four seminars throughout February and March, in which the volunteers learned about teenagers’ rights and crisis support for them, where to meet and how to approach LGBTQ+ youths, and Rainbow-Kit-related mobile interviews.
#2021 Rainbow Kit Program
Through Rainbow Kit Program, we provide daily necessities and messages of cheering to LGBTQ+ youths who are living independently. Our volunteers had mobile interviews with the applicants to figure out what each of them need, packed the items (such as shower products, masks, food, emergency medicine, and more), and delivered them, along with supportive messages. This time, we ran a program called Rainbow Kit Plus, to reach out to LGBTQ+ young adults in their 20s, as well.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the world, and social distancing measures increase in South Korea as well as other places, we are able to continue to support LGBTQIA+ youth in these difficult times thanks to the help of our supporters. From the bottom of our hearts, we are so thankful to you all.
We’d like to update you on some of DDing Dong’s activities during the second half of 2020.
Spaces where transgender queer youth can share their stories and experiences, as well as imagine and envision future opportunities and possibilities are rare. Because of this, DDing Dong saw the necessity of developing a special program to make this type of space possible, and in 2020 created a program called T_GO! Five transgender queer youth gathered on three consecutive Saturdays in October to meet and get to know each other. They also met one additional time together with a medical doctor, and had the opportunity to have any medical related questions they had answered. Through their four meetings, the youth were able to get to know each other and to begin to build and imagine their futures.
#DDing Dong Pocha
Following the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, DDing Dong has not been able to conduct our street outreach program DDing Dong Pocha. Prior to COVID-19, we met with youth every first Saturday of the month. After much consideration, DDing Dong Pocha decided to do outreach online instead. On Saturday, November 7 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., DDing Dong hosted an open chat for LGBTQIA teenage youth and was able to talk with seven teenage LGBTIA youth about their daily lives as LGBTQIA youth. In addition to chatting, participants also took part in an activity that DDing Dong prepared called “Queer Quiz Time,” and received online coupons for participating.
In 2020, DDing Dong considered how we could better provide HIV/AIDS education to youth. Through funding received from the Northeastern NPO Center, we created and produced an educational card game named Challenge! HIV-ster! (HIV Master). On Thursday, November 12, we met with 13 staff members from youth-related organizations based in northeastern Seoul to conduct basic training and education about HIV/AIDS.
Through quizzes and matching exercises, participants were able to learn the information contained in our card game, and gain a better understanding of HIV/AIDS in an approachable and step-by-step manner. We will continue to spread human-rights information about HIV/AIDS through our game Challenge! HIV-ster! (HIV Master) in the future as well.
Because of social distancing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of young people visiting our center has decreased. Youth support centers across the country have been hurting from reduced funding and programming due to the pandemic, and youth living outside of Seoul are having an especially difficult time accessing services and receiving support. As a result, LGBTQIA+ youth outside of Seoul especially are suffering from feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Due to shelter-in-place requirements beginning in February, schools continue to all be conducted via internet and video chat. Because of this, it is even more difficult for LGBTQIA+ youth to stay safe and avoid conflict with family members. In addition, LGBTQIA+ youth struggle as their privacy is violated by their parents (surveillance of social media and internet activity, restrictions on going out, etc).
This is in addition to the discrimination that many LGBTQIA+ youth continue to face because of their gender and sexual identity. DDing Dong recorded cases of discrmination against LGBTQIA+ youth at schools, youth shelters, group homes, medical institutions, and government offices (neighborhood and community centers, office for reporting for mandatory military service).The forms of discrimination recorded were hate speech, refusal to provide services, and indirect discrimination.
#Rainbow Kits to support LGBTQIA+ teenagers living independently From March to July 2020,
we delivered Rainbow Kits to 30 LGBTQIA+ youth
Since 2017, DDing Dong has been steadily making and delivering Rainbow Kits to LGBTQIA+ teenagers. Rainbow Kits contain food and living necessities to support LGBTQIA+ teenagers who are living independently from their families. In addition to providing a Rainbow Kit, DDing Dong checks in with the youth monthly to see how they are doing, if they are healthy, and what kind of support they may need.
#COVID-19 Emergency Living Expenses Support
Thanks to the generosity of DDing Dong and our supporters, emergency living support was provided to seven LGBTQIA+ youth between May and July.
In the first half of 2020, many unexpected things happened. With the spread of COVID-19, young people were forced to take unpaid leave without no guarantee they would be able to return to the job. Because of this, many had to reduce their food expenses and look for any possible part-time work to pay rent.
As the effects of COVID-19 continue to be ongoing, we will continue to do our best to support LGBTQIA+ youth in the second half of 2020, and do all that we can to create a better life, society, and environment for all.
From May through June, we conducted our “Rainbow Wing” project twice with the “Saram Maeum Trauma Healing Center”. The goal of the progam is to help address issues that contribute to suicide and self-harm among LGBTQIA+ youth. Participants explored how to identify emotions, as well as how emotions and actions are connected, and how to observe and describe their feelings.
#Daegu, Gyeongbuk 10th Sexual Minority Support Project 'Todak Todak Memo’
In June and July, we visited LGBTQIA+ youth in Daegu and Gyeongbuk to show our support for them during the spread of COVID-19.
Through the KakaoTalk chatting platform, 33 LGBTQIA+ youth shared their current status and feelings with us. DDing Dong volunteers responded to each of the youth with encouragement, and also sent meal and snack coupons to them.
At DDing Dong and throughout Korea and the rest of the world, as COVID-19 continues to affect all of us as we struggle with the continuing impacts of the pandemic. In-person gatherings remain restricted and for the health and safety of our community, DDing Dong has cancelled all scheduled events. However, we continue to provide counseling and support for our LGBTQIA+ youth as essential services. As we counsel and support our youth, we are learning firsthand how the fallout from COVID-19 is impacting the lives of our youth who dream of living freely and independently. Even after knocking on countless doors, many of them are struggling to find work. Those who do have work have had their hours cut or are forced to take unpaid leave.
As we comfort and share in the feelings of frustration and distress of our youth, we are doing our best to support them. We are also working hard to find food and daily necessities to distribute in our “Rainbow Kits” for youth as we weather this difficult time together.
Here’s a snapshot of what DDing Dong has been doing for the past four months since January 2020:
Your precious donations are helping LGBTIA+ youth in Korea survive in this difficult time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support! We couldn’t do it without you.
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