Myongdo Welfare Centre Visit

 In News
A rmed with some good books, a laptop and some trail mix, ANZA Korea Welfare Coordinator, Cathy McQuade, ANZA Korea President, Jana Kovar, and ANZA Korea Committee member, Janet Victor and myself, set out early from Yongsan station on the KTX to visit the Myongdo Welfare Centre, in Mokpo (a rural city, and a leisurely 3.5 hour away by train ride from Seoul). Myongdo, meaning “Bright Way” in Korean is run by Sister Geradine Ryan, a Columban sister from Ireland.

The purpose of our visit was to meet Sister Geradine and see for ourselves the operations and work that she has tirelessly built up over her 40 years here in Korea. Fluent in Korean, Sister Geradine is one of the most hardworking, energetic and remarkable women I have met.

With only a few hours for our visit, Sister Geradine set out an ambitious and comprehensive ‘tour’ for us.

Our visit included:

  • Two, of approximately 250 outreach families serviced by Myongdo – these families are low income families with various handicaps and needs;
  • The main welfare centre – the centre of their core operations where a broad variety of community based educational and training programs and therapies are offered for children and young adults with a broad range of learning disabilities. Respite care for parents of handicapped children and day care for the profoundly handicapped are also provided;
  • The sheltered workshop, that included a bakery and washing soap / laundry detergent making factory where people with intellectual and physical disabilities are employed;
  • One of a number of group homes established by Myongdo for young adults with learning disabilities; and
  • The child care centre that provides care and therapies for children with a range of intellectual and physical disabilities.

A highlight of our visit was seeing one of the group homes that ANZA Korea has supported in the past. ANZA Korea’s past donation was used to fund the gas system and connectivity for this particular home. See pictures below.

This home is used to house intellectually disabled people, and provides self care skills with an aim to help these people live independently. It was extremely gratifying to see how ANZA Korea’s contribution has benefited this community.

We also enjoyed visiting the sheltered workshop in full swing and meeting some of the adults that are employed to make bread, and undertake various other work (e.g., making paper shopping bags) in return for a wage. The bakery and the soap factory are commercial enterprises that are self-supporting, meaning, the income earned from the sale of their goods is used to pay their wages. Orders from the army and Home Plus are amongst those whom contract the workshop for goods.

We were all incredibly humbled by the work Sister Geradine and her teams have built up over the years and the work she currently undertakes. In particular, we were impressed by how comprehensive the service offering is, the compassion the staff showed to those in their care and the happiness on the faces of those people employed in the sheltered workshop.

In addition to leaving Mokpo with a desire to support Sister Geradine’s operations and projects, we also left with beautiful, freshly baked sponge jam rolls from the sheltered workshop bakery. A lovely end to an extremely worthwhile day.

Click here for more information about Sister Geradine’s work and how you can show your support, or contact Cathy McQuade.

To see more photos from the visit click here.

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