About This Fundraiser
Every day is my birthday. All of September is my birthday month.
I would like to thank the rest of the world for joining in my daily celebration of life. This year I am setting up a fundraiser for the most incredible organization, Teach North Korean Refugees. Yes, I'm biased as the co-Founder, but even people who are not TNKR's creators recognize how wonderful this little organization is.
With very few resources, and relying on volunteers, we have set up an organization that is truly focused on North Korean refugees.
When people ask why we set up TNKR, the story is a bit complicated, there were numerous "aha!" moments along the way. The first was probably when I read Frederick Douglass' books as a youngster. I was inspired by his words and his actions, and live my life by both deed and word. There were other moments along the way--when I was a graduate student at Harvard, and realized that my super smart and caring classmates had wonderful plans for other people. But their plans almost never took into account the plans and goals of the beneficiaries of their wonderful plans wanted the medicine they were to be fed.
Working as a policy analyst in Washington, DC, I got to visit many schools, and realized that a policy I had never cared much for (school vouchers) could provide choices. I threw all of my heart into it, and the result was that more than 1,800 low-income children had the opportunity to attend the school of their choice. I was so energetic that I received some national attention and also had conspiracy theorists targeting me.
When I came to South Korea, I wasn't thinking anything about North Korean refugees. After spending more than a year learning about issues, I threw myself into creating opportunities for them to learn English. There are many challenges that refugees face in South Korea, and I found one where I could make a difference. But after a short time, I realized that it would not succeed if it resembled other programs, that we need to make sure refugees truly wanted it. And we know it based on the enthusiasm refugees show when they find us and the long waiting list that we have. We have created something out of nothing.
My birthday is coming soon. I'm no longer 12 years old, I don't celebrate my birthday much these years, except that I'm happy that it gives me a chance to get to another September 6.
Here's my fundraiser for TNKR. All donations are accepted, only I will know exactly how much you donated so don't feel ashamed if it is a small amount, something is better than nothing.
An American who has been following TNKR since 2014 made a $5,000 donation to TNKR last night (October 29).
There's one "catch": The money is restricted and is to be held in a separate account until we match it by raising $5,000.
The reason? He wanted to provide all donors with 100% assurance in advance that their funds would be matched, and released the moment it hits $5,000, with zero delay.
The deadline? He suggests it would be better for us to take the challenge of raising this in one month.
Why is he doing this? Here are a few of the things he said when we talked.
He is inspired by:
* TNKR's staff keeping the focus on empowering North Korean refugees and building an organization from nothing.
* North Korean refugees studying so hard to improve themselves, and those who are willing to share their stories.
* Volunteers giving so much of their time as tutors and mentors.