IMAGINE IT is February again, when you tensely click the computer mouse to register for classes, wondering as you look at the many lectures available. Among the many, there are many lectures that will give you the opportunity to engage in volunteer work. Surprisingly, 25 lectures involved in volunteer services were offered, with approximately 300 enrolling in them. The level of competition was high comparing it to other lectures, showing great interest that Yonseians have in volunteer work. Although it is partially true that many students enroll volunteer work classes to receive credit, one cannot deny the fact that more people are devoting their time and money to others. *The Yonsei Annals* regards this interest in volunteer work as an opportunity to activate NGO programs that run in a spirit of love, and would like to introduce and analyze the volunteer works hosted by NGOs in our daily lives.
What is an NGO?
The term “Non-governmental organization” or NGO, is used to refer to a legally constituted organization that was created independent of the participation and representation of any government. NGOs exist for a variety of reasons, but usually they serve to further the political or social goals of their members or founders with regard to issues such as the environment or human rights. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organization. Keeping these characteristics in mind, we can identify two different types of NGOs activating in Korea. “NGOs that speak out for humanity and human rights, which developed throughout the pro-democracy movement and NGOs that work for the improvement of social welfare are the two. Currently, the former has more influence in the society and the latter one is relatively new and its development is ongoing,” says Cho Hyo-jae (Prof., NGO graduate school, SungKongHoe Univ.).
Different types of NGOs
By looking at the characteristics and roles of NGOs, we may also distinguish between supply side and demand side NGOs. Supply-side NGOs are mostly welfare oriented, NGOs that provide services directly to local communities and rely on volunteers and in addition to their paid staff. Internationally well-known organizations such as CARE, World Vision, and Compassion fall under this category. In contrast, the demand-side NGOs engage principally in advocacy and lobbying work in order to advance certain ideologies, set beliefs and influence public policy. Well-known examples are, The Interaction and Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) and Amnesty International. These two kinds of NGOs each function in very different ways. Yet, both need global attention in order to advance their agenda and ultimately help people. Since this article intends to encourage participation in NGO programs, it will focus on supply-side NGOs, since they rely so much on volunteers.
Daily NGO programs
Volunteer work has usually been regarded as a burden since it demanded the sacrifice of time and money. Thus, in the past, NGOs suffered from their inability to recruit volunteers. Current NGOs, with this problem in mind are developing programs that will allow people to conveniently integrate volunteer activities into their daily lives. “Although it is the same fund-raising and activity-participating, making the programs be a part of our daily lives draw more volunteers. Daily NGO programs are necessary,” says Na Yun-cheol (Manager, Marketing & Church Relation team, World Vision). This change in how people can participate in NGO programs has also influenced the way that programs are managed and volunteers recruited. “NGOs contribute a lot in the process of making public opinion and they also have their own job of fund-raising and helping the needed with the earned money. Nothing can be earned by just waiting the apple to fall from its tree. NGOs should also become professionals in their field, should be logical in speaking out its own opinions, and also needs to guarantee transparency in working,” says Lee Hyun-woo (Director, Communication Division, Korean Committee for UNICEF).
NGO programs that are now in operation
One of the most well-known NGO groups among Koreans is World Vision. World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities in order to eradicate poverty and achieve justice. World Vision currently operates a number of different programs, many of which require relatively little time and money to participate. “We are currently running many programs to encourage the participation of citizens. The well-known ‘24 Hours of Famine’, ‘Love Loaf’, and ‘Sponsoring a Child by 1:1’ are programs that are created to make volunteer work and donation a part of life,” says Na. Among these programs, Yonsei students will be particularly familiar with the ‘24 Hours of Famine’. The Yonsei Leaders Club sponsors this program on campus. “In order to fulfill the slogan ‘Serving Leadership’ of Yonsei Univ., we are sponsoring the 24 hours famine program in campus. This year we are planning to run the program in the second week of May but we hope that one week of May could be absolutely devoted for this program in the future,” says Ko Ji-hyun(President, Yonsei Leaders Club). Compassion, which also shares the Christian beliefs, runs similar programs under the philosophy of 4C’s, Christ-centered, Child-focused, Church-based and Committed to Integrity. They currently operate programs such as the 1:1 sponsoring, vision trip, and voice of compassion. “Since NGO programs require active participation, we feel a responsible to provide meaningful values through our programs,” says Yang Yun-shil (Head director of the Communication Team, Compassion). The global NGO UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) is also busy developing daily programs. Working for the rights, survival, development and protection of children, guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF currently operates four major programs: personal support, unicef-mall, gathering love-coins (part of the Change for Good program), and making awoo dolls. “All these programs have their own characteristics and are part of the volunteer work or fund-raising program that the UNICEF provides,” says Lee.
The future of daily NGO programs
The programs that are introduced above are very successful due to the active participation of students and citizens who wish to eagerly devote their time and money for the sake of others. “Due to the advent of a globalize society, the importance of developing the civil society has become a common agenda for countries. The participation of citizens in order to mold a solid society is required,” says Cho. However, in order to guarantee the longevity of these programs and encourage participation, a change in the understanding of participation is needed. “Nowadays among students, volunteer work has surely been a boom. However, this boom did not mostly come from one’s heart but was recognized as an obligation in order to enter high school or universities. One’s own initiative to participate in these works would be needed,” says Na. “Opportunities that could grant the participants enjoyments and be worthwhile should be developed. Along with field activities, on-line programs that can encourage people to engage in volunteer work and fund raising should be widespread,” says Lee. Moreover, diverse programs that can catch the interest of volunteers need to be developed and created by current NGOs. “For university students, NGOs are responsible to lure students to participate in different volunteer work. More programs that have certain relationships with students should be further developed” says Yang.
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Amid all the demands of duty and especially in these times of crisis, it is surely a burden to donate time and money to helping strangers. Some might even say that the time and money spent on the poor would result in more fruits when applied to one’s own self-development and hobbies. This maybe true, especially since not all the programs are as successful as their founders had hoped. Yet we should remember the humble last words of the great Cardinal Stephen, Kim Soo-hwan, who currently passed away. "Thank you," and "Pro vobis et pro multis." As we remember the cardinal we should also be inspired by his love and humility. Devoting something that once belonged to oneself to others can make a big difference to the world. With over more people in Korea participating in these diverse NGO programs, Koreans may one day establish their own international NGOs filled with the spirit of Korea’s love for humanity.
Devote your love to others
1) World Vision ? Sponsor a Child
Sponsorship is a practical way of contributing to the improved health, nutrition, and educational opportunities for children as well as helping a child’s family become self-reliant. The funds are pooled to ensure that the majority in the community, including the adult and other villagers who have no children, will also be helped. Through sponsorship, you will come to know a child and follow his or her progress through personal letters, regular updates, and even visits.
* 30,000 won a month will enhance child’s living environment.
2) UNICEF ? AWOO Dolls
Awoo, which means brother in Korean, is a project to help kids in developing countries who suffer with measles, infantile paralysis, peruses, tubercle, tetanus, and diphtheria. Each awoo doll represents a child that one is to fund and support in order to facilitate his or her recovery. Moreover, every doll has its own name, birth date, homeland, height, and eye and hair color certificate in order to prove the relation between the receiver and the supporter. Once made, these dolls are sent to the UNICEF and are adopted for 20,000. 20,000 is the money needed to receive vaccinations for the above six diseases.
* The ￦20,000 a month to adopt one awoo doll will improve health conditions of a child.
3) Compassion ? Vision Trip
Vision Trip is a voyage involving volunteer work. Participants visit countries that are currently being supported by the Compassion, observing and participating in humanitarian programs. Participants will encounter people who live in severe conditions and meet children who lack food and health services and are underweight as a result of disease and malnutrition. Such an experience makes us ask questions about the meaning and purpose of our own lives.
* To find more information, visit www.compassion.or.kr