Having recently moved Beach Volleyball to Hamdeok (함덕) in the spring of 2013 (BVB9), and wanting to continue its mission of giving back to the local community, Furey was on the lookout for a beneficiary family in that town. With some help from the Jo’cheon (조천) Municipal Office, Furey was put in contact with the family in Hamdeok (함덕) that was in the most need of support.
On January 9, 2014, acting-president Mary Summers, and Furey interpreters, Yumi Kang (강유미) and Niina Sakaki, met with the potential beneficiary family at their home. Here’s what was learned about the family:
The mother and her three children live together in a small house not too far from Hamdeok Beach. The mother is 54 years old (y.o.b. 1961) and has been living on Jeju Island since 1994. She has a 21-year old daughter (y.o.b. 1994), a 20-year old son (y.o.b. 1995) who will be graduating from high school this February, and a 15-year old son (y.o.b. 2000) who will be starting his second year of middle school this March. Sadly, four years ago, the father disappeared and the mother has been caring for her children on her own ever since.
She works as a cleaning woman at a nearby hotel, while suffering from arthritis and struggling to make enough money to make ends meet - with any potential savings being put towards her children’s education. The daughter had been attending university, but because of the lack of finances, had started working as well, causing her to fall behind in her studies and ultimately quit university for the time being. The eldest son missed the college application deadlines because of a lack of finances to be able to pay for the application and admission processes. The youngest son has attended ‘hagwons’ sporadically for supplementary education, and is constantly behind in his studies because of the inability to consistently pay for his enrollment.
The mother is currently in debt, owing money to her siblings, as well as having the annual housing rent and monthly utility bills to worry about. The local town office in Hamdeok helps the family by bringing side dishes to the house once every two weeks, but there are no other forms of aid.
Their tiny one-and-a-half room home is heated by a single propane heater and a single heating mat. They are unable to use the floor heating because they cannot afford it. The front of the house is made up only of sliding doors that do not seal properly and do not prevent gusts of wind from entering the household. The mother said that fixing the doors, or redoing the wall, is one of her dreams for the house. She applied for support to enable the family to move to a new home that would be bigger and better insulated through a social welfare program, but the application was declined.
The mother was open and candid about the state the family was in, but she still speaks of her children with pride and is hopeful for their future. Despite the difficult nature of several parts of the conversation, the mother rarely let her feelings show, even towards the end when she thanked the team and said that her biggest hope was still that one day her husband would return. She also hopes to be able to one day stop worrying about her children’s education and be able to provide them each with the opportunities to go to university so they can have a better future.
She was also a fine host and went out of her way to make the Furey team feel comfortable, serving coffee served in what were obviously very special tea cups.
The financial and functional difficulties that this family faces, as we learned from the meeting are:
- 1,000,000krw in debt
- 800,000krw in annual housing rent
- 85,000krw monthly in utilities
- new/fix sliding doors (front/main doors)
- new/fix windows
- new gas range
- education expenses for the 3 children
Furey executive board members will now be discussing the position of this family as well as looking into the needs of other possible families in the Hamdeok area. The search is on for a third family - and it's all thanks to the hard work that you all put in at every event. Stay tuned for information about the addition of a third family!