To commemorate ChildFund’s 75th anniversary, we invited the leaders of each of the 12 ChildFund Alliance member groups to reflect on the past and future of their own organizations and the Alliance. Today, we hear from Korea.
In 1948, the seed of love and sharing was sown for Korean children who were hungry and ragged, as China’s Children Fund began operations in Korea. That seed would take root and grow to become ChildFund Korea.
At the program’s beginning, 400 children lived in three orphanages started by Verent J. Mills, who was then CCF’s overseas director and later became executive director of the renamed Christian Children’s Fund. This support expanded during and after the Korean War, which raged from 1950 to 1953.
Dr. Verent Mills at a Korean orphanage in the 1950s.
During the period of political and social chaos before and during the war, CCF levied financial and human resources to rescue Korean children. In this age of instability, CCF did not leave the frontlines of child welfare but did its work quietly. For the next 38 years, CCF supported about 100,000 Korean children, allocating approximately $1 billion. Not only did the organization help war orphans at the beginning of its work, but it also helped children who were living at home with their parents.
In 1986, the Korean branch became independent from CCF because of high economic growth in the country, allowing it to become self-sustaining. The end of CCF’s economic support carries an important historical meaning in Korea’s development of child welfare. Since 1986, ChildFund Korea has been constantly changing and progressing as a nonprofit organization, providing sponsorship, foster care and child protection, as well as other necessary services for communities and families.
With support from international organizations and the strong will and effort of Koreans, Korea has accomplished great economic growth. In the 1990s, Koreans formed a social consensus to help children in developing countries, prompting ChildFund Korea to work globally. Starting with Cambodia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, we have supported children and families in 21 countries around the world since 1995.
ChildFund Korea President Je-Hoon Lee spends time with children in South Sudan.
To return the love and help that we have received at difficult times, ChildFund Korea took a further step by opening offices in South Sudan and North Korea. ChildFund Korea provided North Korean children with hygiene kits, nutritional food and clothing and built a bakery in Pyongyang that produced 10,000 loaves of bread every day from 2005 to 2009. Also, ChildFund Korea supported health care programs to reduce disease and improve the health of children in North Korea, and we continue to provide various services when possible.
During our global expansion, ChildFund Korea’s domestic programs shifted direction as well, adapting to changes in need and the social environment. As reported cases of physical and sexual violence against children increased, ChildFund Korea adapted the Child Assault Program from the United States and trained 259,559 students, teachers and parents at 600 schools, a total of 10,151 training sessions. So far, 603 CAP teachers have been certified.
ChildFund Korea’s Youngjin Park in Senegal.
In 2011, ChildFund Korea started an advocacy campaign called Nayoung’s Wish, named for a girl who lives with a disability after a sexual assault at the age of 8. ChildFund Korea submitted about 500,000 signatures to South Korea’s congress to promote the abolishment of the statute of limitations for sex crimes against minors and the disabled, which was pending in court at the time.
Finally, the statute was changed. ChildFund Korea has built on this success and is engaged in other advocacy campaigns related to school violence, bullying and child protection.
As we reach our own 65th anniversary, ChildFund Korea allocates more than 130 billion won (US$121 million) a year to support children, and we have more than 240,000 sponsors, 1,100 staff members and 70 program offices. ChildFund Korea has helped Koreans to be active participants in assisting children living in poverty and has strengthened the motivation of Koreans to support global programs, carrying on the legacy of Christian Children’s Fund.
We are honored to be a valuable member of Korean NGOs that emerged as donors after a time of being recipients of aid.
Jung-eun Ok of ChildFund Korea plays with children in Ghana.