“I can’t tell if this is a dream or reality.”
The mother and daughter marveled at the apartment, which measured 49.56 square meters and included two bedrooms, a living room with veranda, a bright white bed, a computer for studying, and a large TV.
“It feels like god is here,” they said of the residence, which was paid for with a lump-sum key money deposit. Over the past two years, anonymous benefactors contributed to cover the cost for the family’s new life after reading in the Hankyoreh about their difficulties finding a home since coming to South
Korea to escape the demand of an uncle back in Africa that the daughter be circumcised.
In February, the Hankyoreh and the foundation Babo Nanum reported on the story of Liberian mother Mary, 34, and her daughter Jenny, 10, as part of the 2016 Sharing Flowers campaign. An anonymous reader in his fifties contacted Babo Nanum after reading the report and made a cash contribution of one million won (US$850). A few days later, he contacted them again.
“I can’t sleep imagining that mother and daughter,” he explained, adding that he wanted to donate 50 million won (US$42,700) he had saved for his retirement to cover the deposit.
Since coming to South Korea with Jenny last year, Mary had been unable to find a place to live and was staying at the home of another African friend she had met at church.
But in early March, the two were forced to leave their temporary accommodations after they were unable to pay their electric bill. They urgently needed support. A reader tip led Babo Nanum to visit an apartment near Jenny’s school on Mar. 10 – one well suited for the mother and daughter to live in, with a key money deposit of 35 million won (US$29,900). A week later, the landlord and benefactor signed a two-year lease, while the foundation offered emergency residential assistant from donations to date – 17 million won (US$14,500) as of Mar. 23 – so the two could move in on Mar. 19.
“A total of 989 people offered warm assistance since the report by way of the automatic response system (ARS), with another 175 donating through bank accounts and 105 contributing online ‘Happy Beans,’” Babo Nanum explained on Mar. 23.
“Contributions will go toward living expenses while they establish themselves, including Korean lessons and job education for Mary, as well as Jenny’s educational costs,” it added.
In addition to the fund-raising, the two were also offered job and residential support three times. One resident of Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, offered to rent them a room, but decided against it because of the trip it would mean for Jenny, who is attending elementary school in distant Dongducheon. An elderly woman offered to introduce a teacher who taught art for free, while a local volunteer offered to hire Mary as a child aide for after-school classes for elementary students. (The Hankyoreh Report of South Korea).