Earlier this year, we shared a story about a single mother at the Holt Morning Garden shelter in Korea — “Ji-ho’s mom.” In her own words, she shared about her experience with unplanned pregnancy, being a single mom in a culture that stigmatizes it, and how she’s currently in college and studying to become a social worker. She’s pursuing a grand dream, against all odds.
“For the welfare of my son and me, I continue to work toward my goals of graduating, becoming a social worker and being a smart and proud mom,” she says.
Ji-ho’s mom is a straight-A student, and is well on her way to successfully becoming a social worker. She even has the possibility of working for Holt someday, helping other women and children like herself and her son.
In pursuit of her goal, she is creating a bright future for herself, her son and the countless individuals she will impact in her career as a social worker. Beyond even this, she’s influencing and inspiring the other women she’s living with at Morning Garden.
“Because of her example, three other women are now in college,” says Paul Kim, director of Holt programs in Korea and Mongolia. “Up until that time, some of these women were told, ‘You can’t do this, you’ll never be able to do this. It’s impossible.’ But they saw her do it, and thought, ‘I can do this, too.’”
“And they did.”
Holt Morning Garden, and our other mother and child shelters in Korea, are all registered with the Korean government as educational institutions. While mothers are living there, they can earn their high school diplomas and even attend private after-school academies as well as tutoring sessions to ensure success on the notoriously difficult national entrance exam required by Korean universities. Once they pass, they have the opportunity to attend college, as three other women are now doing.
One wants to become a teacher, another a school principal or childcare center director, and one is majoring in music and voice.
They are all pursuing dreams that they once thought unattainable. All it took was a safe place where they would be supported in their dreams — and an inspirational leader, which they found in Ji-ho’s mom.
For these women, an education is not just about their dreams for themselves — it’s also about their dreams for their children.
“It means ensuring that these mothers will be properly equipped to provide for herself and her child in the future. Ensuring family integrity,” Paul says. “We’re helping to ensure that [these women and] other families like this will have a bright, bright future.”
Megan Herriott | Staff Writer