Interning at the Eugene Bell Foundation was a privilege, an opportunity that I would recommend other high school students to try. During the experience I learned more about how and what the non-government organization does to help cure North Korean tuberculosis patients. Although the Eugene Bell Foundation has doubled the number of treatment centers in the past two years, there are still so many people who have to be turned away from treatment. Most travel hours away from home in hopes to become tuberculosis-free; they choose to take the long journey for life. But to be turned away from a second chance to live solely because of a lack of space in the treatment center is extremely disheartening – and this is the reality of the country. Yet, I can still honestly say that I am hopeful for the future of the people there. While working as an intern at the Eugene Bell Foundation, I learned their ways of giving aid to patients. Their work and effort accumulated over years resulted in one of the highest cure rates in the world. Their relationship built on trust with the government and being able to physically work in the country are indications of the long-term successful efforts of the
And as I looked through the thousands of pictures taken on the most recent trip of the delegation members, I found myself smiling along with the patients who have graduated from the treatment program and are healthy to go back home. I fell in love with the pictures that captured the vibrant colors of the origami necklaces hung that around their necks and their smiles that covered half their faces. It was then that I realized that through the internship I was witnessing the work of God; He was bringing love into a broken community and giving life through His people.
Before my internship with the Eugene Bell Foundation, I looked at North Korea as a very hopeless nation. It’s so easy to focus on the oppression, to categorize the DPRK as ‘untouchable.’ As an intern at EBF, I learned about how immensely this organization has grown throughout the years, largely due to support from SFS. I have been challenged to shift my previous perceptions about North Korea,
because greater than the medical aid itself, this fundraiser is inspiring hope in a nation that desperately needs it.
I believe that the most powerful form of aid is not in simply giving materialistically to those in need, but in working alongside these individuals and treating them in a way that recognizes their value and abilities. The Eugene Bell Foundation does just that, by recognizing the value of the lives of North Korean tuberculosis patients and utilizing the abilities of the North Korean medical staff through their integral roles at the treatment centers. Eugene Bell’s work is empowering countless lives in the DPRK, and we have the blessing to be a part of that!
My time working with EBF reignited my passion for peace and justice and opened my eyes to look at North Korea in a whole new light. Seoul Foreign School’s involvement with the Eugene Bell Foundation is so much more meaningful to me now. I no longer see hopelessness, but rather the joy on the faces of graduates, cured from tuberculosis. I see trust growing between these two nations in conflict. I see small steps being taken in an effort to bridge the gap between North and South Korea. Yes, these are small steps, but for TB patients fighting for their lives, I can only imagine that to them, this is the biggest miracle. To get another chance at life is beautiful. That is no small feat. I would encourage anyone involved in ‘Unity in Action’ to look at this fundraiser as more than just another yearly event, but rather an opportunity to love our North Korea neighbors from afar. God is moving in North Korea!
‘But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.’ Psalm 33:11