Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Seoul February 2010 last post from home

We are now home. The trip went by so fast and yet each day was very long, packed with learning and enjoying the company of so many dedicated and inspriring people. Along the way Dr. Boas, Ms. Kwon and some of the moms were interviewed for numerous articles and even a radio station. Just before we arrived some of the moms had been interviewed for a TV show which ran while we were there. There are links to many of the articles and reports on the KUMSN web site (for the English versions). Probably the biggest shift in our work, reflected in many was during this trip, is the activity of the moms themselves, via their own advocacy and own voices. This made us feel like we are working with moms rather then just on their behalf.

Some final highlights included a lengthy conversation with Ms. Park Young Mi, from KWAU who functions as an informal adviser to the Miss Mamamia organization of moms. She shared with us some very helpful insights in to the strengths and challenges facing their organization. We also visited the Kids and Future Foundation which provides support to Learning Centers in many parts of the country. These Learning Centers provide extracurricular activities for children whose families can't afford it otherwise, such as music and art, going to the movies and other fun things, and learning about how to manage their money as they get older. We hope that if one or more of the moms decide to start a learning center, they can partner with the Kids and Future Foundation to do so.

Our last day included a meeting with Dr. Kim and Dr. Lee from the Korean Women's Development Institute. Both have been engaged in valuable research on unwed moms in Korea for the last couple of years. Our discussion reflected the need to both increase government support for unwed moms AND the sharing of information about current government programs with moms. Many of the moms do not know much about what government programs they are currently eligible for, and so don't apply. This makes it appear that the funds set aside for such programs are not needed. We learned the government is planning an outreach effort that might include the creation of a web portal, to explain all the programs to the moms.

We left exhausted and inspired to continue raising visibility and support for the great work the moms and others are doing to improve the lives of unwed moms and their children, in S. Korea.