Welcome to our Spring newsletter and greetings from Sri Lanka! It’s been more than two years since the pandemic began and we seem to be entering a more stable version of our “new normal”. We are carefully optimistic that we will soon be allowed to run our programs in all (4) Welfare Homes we serve, and be back more regularly with our wonderful little people who we have missed so much!
We are grateful that we were able to hold our AGM 2022 on the 23rd April at SFBS, which you can read about below. We invite you to get more involved as a volunteer at the welfare homes and/or very importantly on the organisational/management side of OA’s work. We are always grateful for whatever time and resources you are able to give and thank everyone for their continued support and love!
This newsletter is choc full of updates on our Program and Partnership activities and we hope it will inspire more people to get involved! Everyday at OA feels like Children’s day but it’s great to have a designated day annually to bring attention to the orphans and abandoned children of Korea through discussions, letters and radio interviews! Please do try and be an advocate for the children in whatever way you can. Simply talking to others about our work and the plight of our little people will help create more awareness around the issue. We hope this will in turn affect change at both societal and policy level. These small steps will help work towards our OA vision and mission.
Last, but not least: the exciting news that Barbara, our Founder, is visiting Seoul from 2nd to 15th June! We will have an event so that all can catch up with her. To be involved, please email us at email@example.com
With thanks, gratitude and love to you all,
One Caring Adult per Child
Good news! We are restarting our Early Years programs at Myeongjin Welfare Home on 21st May and hope to soon re-open at DreamTree Welfare Home. Registered members have received emails to volunteer. If you are interested in registering as a Member to volunteer with Open Arms, click below to get started
The students of Dulwich College Seoul were inspired by the Primary Charity Club's Christmas Gift Drive for OA and wanted to raise additional funds for English learning resources. The students held a book fair and dressed up as a character in their favourite books. They raised 600,000 KRW for OA! Thank you Dulwich College Seoul students for your dedication and hard work! We value and applaud your passion to help those less fortunate than you and make a difference in their lives!
English Learning Packs
During the uptick of COVID-19 cases in Korea, doors to the welfare centres were closed to volunteers again for the safety of the children and staff. Personalized packs were made for each child in the Early Years program, with a total of 30 for Cheongwon WC, 35 for Myeongjing WC and 10 for Dream Tree Village.
Logan, a student at SFBS, prepared the boxed packs for the CWWC boys with materials donated by Eric Seo, one of our long term volunteers, now in Canada. The student did it as part of his service award for school. Thank you for your thoughtfulness in preparing the packs, Logan! Katy then prepared packs for the girls. James, a teacher at Dulwich school, prepared the Caterpillar packs for Myeongjin. The children were thrilled to receive them and know we have not forgotten about them.
Even though in-person OA programs were cancelled, we were extremely pleased and grateful that the staff at CWWC continued to teach the children English with our resources. Now in our 5th year, we have gained the trust of the staff and children who value and love our programs and volunteers.
On April 19, we were welcomed back at CWWC! Great as the learning packs are, they do not compare to in person classes. The energy and excitement ignited the room! The theme of Katy’s lesson was Easter and the children had fun making bunny hats, hopping like bunnies and playing games. Katy makes learning FUN and her love for the children is felt by all!
Although in-person classes have resumed, limited volunteers and children are allowed to participate on Tuesday evenings. We hope that as the COVID-19 cases continue to dwindle, more volunteers and children will be allowed but in the meantime, we are thilled just to be back!
Changemakers & MJ Baking Event
30 April @ SFS
The baking session was a lot of fun! The joint group of aged out young adults from Dream Tree Village and Myeongjin Welfare Centre enjoyed their time and made some useful contacts. Katy did a fantastic job organising, the cookies turned out well and there were lots to send out to the welfare homes, all neatly packaged. Simon brought his camera and took a range of photos. It was absolutely fantastic to be with our volunteers in person!
OA volunteer Kathrine, and JunHwan, who recently aged out from MJWC, participated in the baking session and also went together to give out the cookies to children at MJWC. Cookies were also given to the children in the Early Years program at CWWC.
‘I just let Junhwan hand them out on his own and he took the time to give each and every kid a hug and a cookie and told them he had helped make them himself just for them. The teacher was so proud of him, having made them and coming there to hand them out himself. The kids were all so happy and thankful. It was a really special thing to watch!’
Kathrine, OA Volunteer
Working Group Committee
We welcome Nicole Gorman to our Working Group Committee as Community Fundraising Coordinator. Nicole is a wife and mother who spent 3 years in India during which she volunteered 3 days a week in a school and orphanage, organizing volunteers, projects, donations and awareness. She is a parent at Dwight School Seoul and we are thrilled she has joined our dynamic and hard working team. She also brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from 15 years in corporate marketing.
Congratulations and welcome back Justin Im who has been newly awarded his PhD! Justin will lead OA's fundraising efforts by developing grant applications and proposals as Fundraising Coordinator. Justin is working as a field epidemiologist and has been involved in vaccine research focusing on preventing infectious disease in the world’s poorest populations. He loves being outdoors, particularly on his bike somewhere in a quiet and picturesque part of Korea.
Thank you Lavinia Phey for filling in as Volunteer Coordinator. We wish you the very best in your future endeavors! We are in need of further volunteers with experience in accounts, HR, events, corporate fundraising and sponsorship. Please e-mail: openarmskorea.gmail.com
Children's Day and National Adoption Day
Interview by Jasmine Lee on Radio Show 'Diverse Voices' on TBS eFM (101.3MHz) 4-5 pm
"Diverse Voices," a radio show on English broadcaster TBS eFM (101.3MHz), deals with a variety of issues surrounding migrants and residents of foreign nationality in Korea. It is hosted by Jasmine Lee, a Philippine-born naturalized Korean and former lawmaker who has worked with various civic groups active around migrant and multicultural family issues.
We are very grateful to Natalia, a new member of our community, for her efforts as an advocate for Korean orphans. She has made contact with the Editor of the Korea Times and hopes to get the paper engaged in a longer term advocacy effort.
We were invited to sign the letter Natalia drafted to the Editor of the Korea Times for Children's Day and National Adoption Day, along with a number of organizations that advocate for adoption. Following internal discussions amongst available team members of the core team, we decided that we should not add OA to the list of organizations signing off on the letter. This exercise was very helpful to refine our thinking on this issue. We invite you all to engage in this conversation if you would like to share your views.
Open Arms members were invited to participate in our 2nd AGM in person, online or by proxy vote. Transparency is a core value and therefore it is important that all our members are informed of our progress, financial status and tentative goals for the coming year. We encourage you to please take the time to read the AGM newsletter, which Members will find in their inboxes (sent on 6th May). You can click the link below to see the public version on the website.
Alicia Chung was unanimously elected as Official Representative.
Sanjini De Silva Rijsberman was unanimously elected as Executive Director.