It is not hard to feel sympathy when we see posters of young patients, barely school children with shaved heads and sunken eyes. But what about their families? What about their younger siblings whose parents are understandably distressed and constantly preoccupied?
These were the questions that inspired a project I led for the past 3 years. For this project, on August 3rd, I received an award from the Mayor of Seoul at the ‘Youth Creative Convergence Activities Competition’. This was a nationwide competition designed to teach the future leaders of the world about the importance of pursuing the common good of our community and foster the idea of social responsibility.
|[Jooyoung and I at the award ceremony. Photo credit: Yun Lee]|
Since I was young, I was exposed to the idea of giving back to my community while watching generations within my family donate to the Seoul National University Hospital. Through multiple visits to the hospital, I learned about the struggles of young patients and their families. I started helping out these patients and children at Seoul National University Children’s Hospital as a Community Service Leader during my middle school years. I then proposed to my classmates the idea of donating to the hospital funds raised by selling a book containing our short stories and doing bake sales at the school fair. We managed to raise around 4 million won over two years. This was really meaningful because our school had previously focused on providing donations to organizations abroad. This way, as international school students in Korea, we were able to address the sufferings of the people and communities around us. My journey didn’t stop there. I am now the proud leader of a school-wide charity project, called the J&R DreamBox Project, which is part of the So Good Project held every winter.
I made the J&R DreamBox Project with my friend Jooyoung last year, who I was friends with since kindergarten years. Jooyoung had started the Dreambox Project around three years ago, which sent DreamBoxes to orphanages around the world. We’ve always wanted to help our community and those who are less fortunate than us, so we decided to merge her project with my donation plans for Seoul National Children’s Hospital. Thus was born our new project, the J&R Dreambox Project, named after our first name initials J and R. We began the project with an ambitious slogan, “if there’s no bright side, make one.” We were determined to bring light to the dark shadow hanging over the lives of families surrounding child patients.
The J&R DreamBox is a “Piece of Dream” filled with toys, stationery, and books delivered to children living in harsh conditions. Last year, our DreamBoxes were specially designed for the siblings, under the age of 10, of patients who were undergoing treatment or hospitalized at Seoul National University Children’s Hospital. We were inspired to support these siblings when we found out that, while young patients themselves received a lot of care and financial support, their siblings were languishing in the shadows of their brother’s or sister’s illness. I could imagine the terror and sorrow that younger siblings would feel in the presence of their dying brothers and sisters.
|[Jooyoung and I delivering the boxes to the hospital. Photo credit: Yun Lee]|
|[The reaction of children and parents receiving the DreamBox.
Photo credit: Seoul National University Hospital]
When I look back at the boxes we filled, I can still visualize the smiles on the tired faces of young children. For them, these DreamBoxes would have brought them a glimmer of joy in their everyday lives which were probably full of misery and fear. My sincere hope is that they felt recognized and loved by the community around them. If there ever is another community in dire need for a “piece of dream” or a ray of light in their lives, Jooyoung and I would be more than happy to pay them a visit with a DreamBox in our arms.
Rayoung (Madeline) Lee
Seoul Foreign School
Rayoung (Madeline) Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
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