What would you do with a gift of 5 million won (approximately $4,200USD)?
Take a nice vacation? Buy new clothes? Treat your friends and family to an expensive meal at a fancy restaurant? Put some money in the bank? Pay a few bills? It may seem like you’ve won the lottery, but how long would the money last?
Now, let’s pretend that you are 19 years old, and that you’ve been given 5 million won. That’s a lot of money for a teenager! But that is all the money you have. And you don’t have a place to live. Or a family to protect and provide for you. There are unscrupulous people who know you have been given the money, and will try to trick you out of it. You may have a job, but it pays very little and has no job security. How long will your money last?
Instead of feeling rich, you are more likely to feel frightened and all alone. How are you going to survive? Who will be there to help you if you get sick? Will you be able to find a safe place to live?
This is the desperate reality facing hundreds of young adults every year as they age out of Children’s Welfare Homes in Korea. There are currently approximately 280 government-recognized Children’s Homes in Korea with a population of nearly 15,000 children. Each year, between 200 and 600 teenagers will have to leave these homes after they graduate from high school. They will have 5 million won (or less, depending on the location of the Children’s Home), which is provided by the government, but most will have little else. What will happen to them as they make the transition to independent living situations? Unseen and unnoticed by most people, many of these young people will end up in unlivable and unsafe or unhealthy situations. All will experience times of depression, loneliness, and the feeling of being left out of normal life events.
If these were the circumstances facing someone you love, what kind of help would you want them to receive?
As these teenagers leave the safety and guidance that is provided in the Children’s Homes, they should not have to face the challenge of entering adulthood alone… unsupported and unprotected. Indeed, someone will connect with these young men and women. But who will that be? Sadly, if we don’t do it, there are people who will prey on their vulnerability and will exploit and endanger them. I don’t want to see that happen. I don’t believe that you do either.
LifeTogether (라이프 투게더) was established to provide a long-term network of support that connects resources and individuals so that every Children’s Home graduate will have the skills and assistance necessary to be productive, healthy, stable citizens. There are practical and physical needs that need to be met: housing, supplies, life skills training, job training, and job opportunities. There are emotional needs to be addressed through counseling, mentoring, and stable friendships.
The task is huge, and we need your help. Working together, doing Life Together, we can meet these needs and provide the love, protection, and support that each Children’s Home graduate needs.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Contact LifeTogether (email): firstname.lastname@example.org