Top right stands Rev. Kim Hae-sung and other dignatories from Kookmin Bank, Ministry of Labor and others on Friday, July 11.
A Migrant Workers' Hospital in Guro-gu (district) of Seoul has just celebrated its fourth birthday this afternoon on Friday (July 11). Founded in 2004 this non-profit hospital, run by group and individual sponsors, has been providing free medical service to migrant people in Korea unable to receive medical benefits.
Such people, who would otherwise be heavily burdened by medical costs, include migrant workers, migrant women married to Koreans and Korean descendants from countries like China and Russia.
As the hospital was established under a Christian spirit, the commemoration ceremony first began with a church worship followed by an acknowledgement and award session. Rev. Kim Hae-sung, the president of the hospital, led the way along with other pastors who prayed, preached and blessed the attendants.
Kim Soung-Yee, Minister for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, Yang Dae-woong, mayor of Guro-gu and other guests gave congratulatory speech.
Rev. Lee Hae-hak of Joo-Min Church in his message stressed brotherhood between newcomers and locals under the guidance of God, and the globalization that needs to be pursued further.
Exemplary organizations that contributed over the past year were awarded, including Kookmin Bank for bestowing additional funding; the Dream, Hope, Future Foundation; Namchon Foundation; Seoul Medical Center; Yuhan Foundation, Korean Foundation for International Health Care; the Hankook Tire Welfare Foundation and the three employees at the Migrant Workers' Hospital.
Preaching by Rev. Lee Hae-hak and hymn songs by Chinese volunteers (right)
All the while other volunteers from the Korea Migrant Help Center (www.migrantok.org
) and related aid centers for overseas nationals passed around fruit, rice cakes and a lunch of bibimbap (mixed vegetables and rice). Some prepared songs and little children danced.
“It's a miracle that the hospital has come this far only with the sponsorship of a few groups and individual helpers,” said an official at the Korea Migrant Center that receives calls in nine different languages of neighboring Asian nations. Rev. Kim is also the representative of the place assisted by the Labor Ministry. "We have debt piled up year after year and only slightly relieved by annual ceremonies like that when big donors attend. We could use all the help we can get."
Asked if the patients of different religions are troubled by Bible verses on the walls and an emphasis on Christianity, the employee shook her head. “Religion is no matter. People have no trouble adjusting to the place be they Buddhist or Muslim. We still have so much to do, for there are still many in this country unfamiliar with the language and society who suffer under those who take advantage of them. Our hospital is there to provide not only medical assistance but also guide them to the right institutions and court in case of industrial accident, salary delay and more.”
Migrant Workers' Hospital
The hospital began with 1,563 volunteer workers and medical volunteers have increased in numbers as the years have gone by. In June 2008 an estimated total of 98,633 served the Migrant Workers' Hospital and 15,923 medical volunteers. There are also an additional 10,888 doctors of oriental medicine and 3,055 dentists who visit the hospital every week or two to provide a free checkup. Over 128,000 people visited the hospital for the past four years. About 250 patients visit the place every day.
Finally asked about how the hospital came to secure quite a number of doctors despite its scale and budget, the employee admitted that she certainly sees quite a few doctors with hearts of gold. "Some doctors visit every time the opportunity arises. One of them said all his life he had earned money for himself but now that he's giving his service for free, he's never felt happier."
Those interested in volunteer work or donation can visit: http://www.mwhospital.com/
(Korean only). People are welcome to assist in interpretation service, including phone service, clinic service to assist patients, administrative works and even washing and cleaning.
Foreign Exchange Bank:630-005908-252
By Kim Hee-sung
Korea.net staff writer