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Extraordinary Homes in Busan

Busan is South Korea’s second most-populous city after Seoul, with a population of over 3.5 million. It is also the home to three of our affiliated projects: the Grace Children’s Home, the Hee Rak Children’s Home and the Sae Dul Children’s Home.

While visiting the homes, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, got a chance to find out how each of the homes stands out in a unique way, while equally supporting our sponsored and unsponsored children with basic needs, a safe home environment and a quality education.

Building children’s self-esteem

During his first visit, Luis found that at the Grace Children’s Home, children are looked after by nineteen staff members, most of whom are social workers.

Without sponsorship support, Luis elaborated, the home would not be able to afford nice garments for the children because they are expensive in Korea — especially in a big city like Busan.

“I was pleased to find that the local government pays the salaries of the large staff, ensuring that the children living at Grace are getting the best care possible,” said Luis.

While on a tour of the home, administrators told Luis that it is their goal to provide the children with the best clothes and shoes possible, in addition to making sure they are fed nutritious food.

“The director of the school feels strongly that providing the children with high-quality items helps increase their self-esteem,” stated Luis.

Without sponsorship support, Luis elaborated, the home would not be able to afford nice garments for the children because they are expensive in Korea — especially in a big city like Busan.

Supporting kids beyond basic needs

At Hee Rak Children’s Home, located on the outskirts of Busan, Luis found that the thirty-six children who are living in the home are not only receiving a well-rounded education but are also provided with after-school tutoring and psychological support.


“Most of the children in the home do not have families and have faced a lot of trauma in their lives as young people. They need support to cope with their individual situations,” explained Luis.

“They live at the Hee Rak Children’s Home all year long and need help on a regular basis, whether with homework in the afternoons or support from a therapist or physiologist.”

Support from Children Incorporated sponsors is used to augment the home’s food supply as well as to buy clothes and shoes and to cover any small educational needs that government funding does not provide.

Before Luis completed his visit, he had a chance to see the home’s improvements and updates to some of the older buildings. The entire compound had a new sprinkler system installed as well as new windows and doors. Luis was both impressed and pleased with how nice the home was for the more than 30 children who live there full-time.

“The director of the school feels strongly that providing the children with high-quality items helps increase their self-esteem,” stated Luis.

A large home with many students

The Sae Dul Children’s Home itself has a large infrastructure, with the capacity to house 96 children. At the time of Luis’ visit there were 75 children in the home.

“This home is impeccable. The city provides a great deal of support, and it is one of the nicest homes that I have seen in South Korea,” said Luis.

“The children have all they need here — really nice housing, food, educational support and clothes. As is customary in South Korea, all the children sleep on mattresses on the floors which are heated for their comfort.”

Upon leaving Busan, Luis reflected on how grateful he was that these homes were able to support children in our program in such a consistent way.

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How do I sponsor a child in South Korea?

You can sponsor a child in South Korea in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in South Korea that is available for sponsorship.

Going Above and Beyond for Kids in Need

As the largest elementary school in Knott County, Kentucky, Hindman Elementary School serves 609 students in grades Kindergarten through eight.

Shana doesn’t let any obstacle stand in her way when it comes to making sure that vulnerable, underprivileged students at her school — including those enrolled in the Children Incorporated program — get the help they need.

Not only does the school have high enrollment, but it also boasts test scores that are above the state average. According to our volunteer coordinator at the school, Shana, Hindman Elementary has a higher ratio of children who come from middle-class households compared to the rest of Knott County.

These parents have completed high school or college and now work as teachers, nurses, county administrators, or medical professionals in higher paying jobs than their peers who weren’t able to get their high school diplomas or higher education degrees. And thanks to higher pay than minimum wage jobs, they are able to provide their children with the adequate resources they need to succeed in school.

A school with kids in need

Unfortunately, even with higher percentages of students excelling, Shana says that many kids at Hindman are living in poverty. Nearly 75% of children attending Hindman receive free or reduced lunch through the National School Lunch Program.

But Shana doesn’t let any obstacle stand in her way when it comes to making sure that vulnerable, underprivileged students at her school — including those enrolled in the Children Incorporated program — get the help they need.

Meeting Jean

Thanks to Shana, children enrolled in our program at Hindman Elementary School are well cared for all year long.

On a recent visit to Knott County, Kentucky, our Director of U.S. Programs Renée Kube had the chance to see just how much Shana was willing to do for our sponsored and unsponsored kids.

“Shana is a dynamic coordinator who always goes the extra mile. Before our meeting at the school, she had arranged a visit to the home of a nice woman named Jean and her husband, John,” said Renée.

“Jean and John are the legal guardians of his six grandchildren, who are all currently sponsored through our program. When we arrived, Jean gave me a warm welcome into their trailer. She said they are retired, and starting all over again with his grandchildren was a big adjustment.”

Renée continued, “But the kids are so sweet. She is a tiny little woman with a ton of energy. She spoke of the grandchildren lovingly, telling funny stories about them — their pictures are displayed in places of pride on the television stand and the living room wall.”

“It was amazing to see firsthand how Shana’s efforts were making a huge difference for their family,” said Renée.

Visting Hindman

After their trip to Jean’s house, Shana and Renée had a chance to talk more about how Children Incorporated and the Family Resource Center are helping children and families in Knott County.

It made Renée happy to know that children at this large elementary school have a caring person like Shana who is willing to go the extra mile every day to make sure they each have their individual needs met.

Shana told Renée that the things she struggles with most are providing basic needs assistance to children and accessing adequate healthcare for them. Thankfully, because of our donors and sponsors, the children at Hindman are getting shoes, clothes and school supplies regularly.

When it comes to healthcare, Shana brings the University of Kentucky Dental Van to the school and works with the Lions Club to obtain eyeglasses.

A wonderful time

Overall, Renée was very pleased with her visit to Hindman and the time she got to spend with Shana.

It made Renée happy to know that children at this large elementary school have a caring person like Shana who is willing to go the extra mile every day to make sure they each have their individual needs met.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

You can sponsor a child in Kentucky in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Wishing for Work

Knott County Central High School is located in the small town of Hindman, Kentucky and is the only high school in all of Knott County. Built in 1974, the high school has been well maintained over the years, serving 622 students in grades nine through twelve.

Administrators and teachers at Knott County Central High work had to help encourage students to pursue higher education.

While students’ scores are above state standardized test averages, there is still concern among administrators when it comes to college and career readiness. Overall, the school is below the state average in some key measures such as access to advanced classes or availability of help to prepare students for college entrance tests.

Kids in need

On a visit to Knott County Central High School, Children Incorporated Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, met with our volunteer coordinator, Karen, to talk about the many issues that students at the school face — especially those living in poverty.

“Karen said her students have many needs. It is challenging enough to transition through puberty and adolescence to young adulthood, and the added burden of coming from impoverished households makes their situations even more difficult,” said Renée.

“Many of the teens would love after-school jobs to help their families, but there are few opportunities. There are more jobs in the city of Hazard, but it’s a half hour away, and most of these teens don’t have cars of their own.”

“Many of the teens would love after-school jobs to help their families, but there are few opportunities. There are more jobs in the city of Hazard, but it’s a half hour away, and most of these teens don’t have cars of their own.”

 

– Renée Kube

Finding creative ways to shop

As they continued their conversation, Karen told Renée about how she manages the Children Incorporated program to ensure that sponsor funds are providing students with exactly what they need throughout the school year.

“A few years ago, Karen used to have the sponsored students and their families go to a few stores in Hazard that would allow them to shop and then hold the clothes for Karen to pick up later,” Renée explained.

“Last school year she tried that system twice, but it did not work well because a lot of parents don’t have transportation or the time to get to the store.”

“The following year, Karen was able to get the principal’s permission to take a school bus field trip to Walmart with students,” said Renée.

“The kids enjoyed it, and participation was very high. She now has gone back to meeting the parents and students at a local Walmart so the kids can continue to choose their clothes, shoes and school supplies that are just right for them.”

Getting to know Victoria

Renée with Victoria at Knott County High School

Renée also had a chance to meet with a special sponsored child at Knott County High during her visit. Victoria* has had the same sponsor since she was in the 5th grade. Her father is unemployed, and her mother is taking college classes in the hopes of improving their economic situation in the future.

Money for Victoria’s family has been — and still is — very tight. Karen shared with Renée that after Back-to-School time last year, the family experienced a fire and lost many items in their home. Thanks to her sponsor and additional donations from our Hope in Action Fund, Karen was able to make sure that Victoria had everything she needed to start the school year with everything she needed.

*Name changed to protect the child.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

You can sponsor a child in Kentucky in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Backpacks Full of Food to the Rescue

Boyd County Middle School is located in the isolated and rural town of Cannonsburg, Kentucky.

When children don’t eat enough, it can shorten their attention span, lower their IQ and keep them from performing well in school.

Like many of Kentucky’s Eastern Coal Field communities, Cannonsburg has significantly suffered from the decline of the coal mining industry. At the height of the coal operations, Boyd County was an essential and active port city for the transport of coal along the Ohio River.

Today, many of its residents live in dismal poverty. Illiteracy and high dropout rates are significant problems in the area.

Thankfully, students at Boyd County Middle School have caring teachers and staff that work hard to motivate and educate them so that they can graduate and become successful members of their community.

A newly renovated school

Not only do students at the school have a supportive group of administrators to help them, but according to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, they also have newly renovated school buildings to enjoy.

Unfortunately, for many children living in poverty, their only meals of the day can often be those they receive at school.

On a recent visit to Boyd County Middle School, Renée marveled at the new entrance façade, energy efficient windows, improved access to the gym and a new bus loading/unloading area designed to help with traffic congestion during peak times — all updates from the last time she visited the school a few years ago.

A lack of adequate food at home

While at the school, Renée also got a chance to meet with our volunteer coordinator, Vicki. Vicki told Renée that Boyd County Middle School serves 729 students in sixth through eighth grades. Fifty-seven percent of those children come from low-income families. These children often come to school without proper clothes, shoes and school supplies. Many of them don’t have adequate food at home either.

“Vicki expressed to me that her biggest need is for more help with her Weekend Backpack Food Program, which is currently assisting over 100 children,” said Renée.

Why is backpack feeding necessary?

Sending children home on Friday afternoons with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food ensures that they get enough food on weekends and holidays and can’t rely on a getting a nutritious meal at school.

Unfortunately, lack of food in the home for families living in poverty is an issue that many children in the United States face. According to Feeding America’s website, “Twenty-two million children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program. For many of these children, school meals may be the only meals they eat.”

Roughly 13 million kids in America today don’t have enough food to eat on the weekends. One in five kids in our country goes without access to affordable, nutritious food on Saturdays and Sundays. Lack of adequate food leads to health problems in addition to hunger. When children don’t eat enough, it can shorten their attention span, lower their IQ and keep them from performing well in school.

Because of these harsh realities, backpack feeding programs like Vicki’s at Boyd County Middle School are crucial for children. Sending children home on Friday afternoons with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food ensures that they get enough food on weekends and holidays and can’t rely on a getting a nutritious meal at school.

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HOW DO I SUPPORT BACKPACK FEEDING PROGRAMS IN THE U.S.?

Our U.S. Feeding Program provides support for Back Pack Feeding Programs at our affiliated projects. To donate, call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org, or visit https://childrenincorporated.org/u-s-feeding-programs/ to make an online donation.

Surrounded By Beauty in the Land of the Morning Calm

For over 2000 years, Koreans have been shaping the world around them, creating beautiful landscapes through refined gardening.

While visiting our affiliated projects in South Korea, this was apparent to our International Director of Programs, Luis Bourdet. With each home he visited, Luis found that sponsored children in our program were growing up in environments surrounded by nature’s beauty. The homes also provided them with safe and comfortable places to play, exercise and develop into young adults.

Sun Duk Children’s Home

The Sun Duk Children’s Home is located in a hilly area about one hour away from Iksan in the North Jeolla Province of South Korea. According to Luis, the home has a stunning view of the local mountain range.

Children’s homes in South Korea typically have a lot of greenery which adds to the beauty of the grounds.

Luis noticed how picturesque the landscapes in and around the home were, and observed how the infrastructure of the home had been updated and modernized.

“Many upgrades have been made to the buildings, making them much nicer since my last visit. Each had solar water heaters and new protection systems like sprinklers, new windows and doors and heated floors. Overall, this is a wonderful place for children to grow up,” said Luis.

In total, 36 children live in the home and are well taken care of by 17 staff members. Children Incorporated sponsorship support provides for the children’s educational expenses not covered by the government.

“Additional gifts from sponsors are used to buy the children clothes and shoes, as well as anything special they may need to make their stay at the home more pleasurable,” said Luis.

Zion Children’s Home

The Zion Children’s Home is also located outside of Iksan surrounded by green, rolling hills like those of the Sun Duk Children’s Home.

“The Director of this home, Mrs. Ko, loves playing drums and is teaching the children to play, too. She is a true mother to them,” said Luis.

Luis noticed that in addition to its well-manicured gardens, the Zion Children’s Home had an impressive library, computer room, large auditorium and a swimming pool.

The home also provides dental treatment for children thanks to the support of a local retired dentist and his wife who have taken it upon themselves to remodel one section of a building into a small dental clinic.

With each home he visited, Luis found that sponsored children in our program were growing up in environments surrounded by nature’s beauty. The homes also provided them with safe and comfortable places to play, exercise and develop into young adults.

Iri Children’s Home

The Iri Children’s Home is located in the city of Iksan and is run by the Buddhist Association. The home has three large three-story buildings. In the center of the home is a large sandy play area surrounded by plants and flowers. There, the children can enjoy their free time and stay active when they are not in school.

Children Incorporated supports 27 children who live at the Iri Children’s Home. The local government provides funding for the children’s living expenses as well as for staff salaries. Sponsorship support is used to buy clothes and shoes for the children, as well to cover medical and educational expenses.

Through his visits to these homes, Luis felt confident that the children in our program were having their needs met. He was delighted to see that they were growing up surrounded by the natural beauty that their country has to offer.

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How do I sponsor a child in South Korea?

You can sponsor a child in South Korea in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in South Korea that is available for sponsorship.

No Distance Too Great

Children Incorporated has affiliated projects, sponsored children and sponsors from all over the world. Most of our sponsors don’t live in the same cities — or even the same states — as the children they support.

For many of our sponsored kids, their sponsors live in entirely different countries.

“I feel that the children are receiving incredible support here thanks to the administration and our sponsors. Last year alone, seven of the eight high school graduates at the school went on to higher education!”

 

– Luis Bourdet

But sponsored kids in South Korea — especially those living at the Kwangju Ae Yuk and the Hyungje Children’s Homes — feel the same amount of comfort and love as if their sponsors were right by their sides.

Kwangju Ae Yuk Children’s Home

Located in the shadow of high-rise apartments in the city of Gwangju, South Korea, the Kwangju Ae Yuk Children’s Home provides children from impoverished backgrounds with a safe place to live, grow and receive a good education — all while instilling the core values of honesty, integrity and compassion for others.

Gwangju is the largest city in the southwestern part of South Korea, with a population of about 1.5 million people. It is the 6th largest city in the country.

The city itself is known for the students’ pro-democracy uprising that occurred in the early 1980s, which is credited for the country’s initial move from military rule to democratic governance, and its economic explosion and development.

Kwangju Ae Yuk Children’s Home is a well-known home for children from impoverished backgrounds due to its ability to care for a large number of orphanages and underprivileged youth. The home has over 50 children residing there currently. Children Incorporated sponsors support 30 of them.

Lots of help for the young

While visiting the home, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, was pleasantly surprised to see a large staff at Kwangju.

The children at the Kwangju Ae Yuk and the Hyungje Children’s Homes know that their sponsors want the best for them.

“The home has an impressive number of personnel. About 30 people work full-time, most of whom are social workers providing consistent aid and guidance to the children,” said Luis.

During the day, the children attend local schools. In the afternoons, they receive music instructions and participate in art classes.

Support from the local government offers funds for basic needs such as housing costs and food. Sponsorship support provides for additional expenses like school supplies, but it also gives the children a great sense of emotional and psychological support.

“I feel that the children are receiving incredible support here thanks to the administration and our sponsors. Last year alone, seven of the eight high school graduates at the school went on to higher education!” exclaimed Luis.

Hyungje Children’s Home

Hyungje Children’s Home resides within the city limits of Gwangju. With 33 children at the home in our sponsorship program, Hyungje has the largest enrollment of any of our projects in South Korea.

The home consists of two large three-story buildings. With over 70 students in attendance — and more being added each year — the home is running out of usable living space for the kids.

Thankfully, when Luis visited the home, he witnessed new construction already underway so the children will have more room to spread out soon.

Sponsored kids in South Korea, especially those living at the Kwangju Ae Yuk and the Hyungje Children’s Homes, feel the same amount of comfort and love as if their sponsors were right by their sides.

Sponsors at the Hyungje Children’s Home provide almost all basic needs for the children outside of housing cost. Funds from sponsorship support buy the children schools supplies, clothes, shoes and food regularly.

The administration at the home also makes sure that the children understand what it means to have a sponsor beyond just the items they receive.

“The children know that their sponsors want the best for them, and in return, it is a special feeling for the children to know that someone from afar cares for their well-being,” said Luis.

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How do I sponsor a child in South Korea?

You can sponsor a child in South Korea in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in South Korea that is available for sponsorship.