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MAY BE TAKEN OUT WITH FULL CREDITS
Sponsor 2PM’s Junho
Text by 2PM’s Junho
Photos by Kim Sharon
1stvacation in 4 years
I’ve decided to go to Ethiopia when it’s already been around 7 or 8 months since I’ve begun sponsoring Felmeta. I was beginning to feel weary of the busy everyday life, and it almost felt like I was about to lose myself. Even though I like my job, I think everyone has experienced a slump while doing something over and over again. It was about then when had a talk with Bongwon-hyung (JYP Sound Engineer) about “What is real happiness?”. We shared ideas about how we still need to try in order to do or acquire things that would make us happy – live liking your own work, meet good people, buy a house, a car, all the little things to the very tiniest detail. However, since I’ve always wanted to return the love I was receiving the topic of our conversation naturally changed towards child support. Back then I distinctly remember myself saying “So let’s find time and go visit the children we support someday.”
After having consulted with World Vision, I’ve promised to get some free time somehow, but deep inside I was worried nevertheless, because our schedule was extremely heavy. “Would the impact be greater if we went after having received bigger acknowledgment, or should we just go now, because it’s not certain when we would be able to do that again?” – and so the answer was set, because I thought this was the chance to spend my time meaningfully. And so, we left for Ethiopia in the evening of January 16th.
As we went to see our little friends in Ethiopia, we also prepared presents. Due to the fact that there’s a big difference in daily temperature over there, bringing windbreak jumpers was a must, the rest we just bought on site, because we wanted to give the children things they really needed. Finally, I boarded the plane to Ethiopia. I was thrilled, sitting in the economy class just the 4 of us without any manager – two members of the World Vision staff, Bongwon-hyung and me. I’ve gone through many flights due to our schedules overseas, but it was the first time when I felt as excited as a little kid.
It was warm in Ethiopia. I was a bit worried, because I cannot stand heat well, but there was also a refreshing wind blowing, and after having spent long hours on plane, it was really nice to be flooded by sunlight. I thought, right now, as long as I’ll do well, it’s going to be alright. The next morning after 8 hours ride through an unpaved red earth road we arrived at JimmaGeneti settlement that had Ethiopia World Vision establishment for children. As the children greeted us with flowers, songs and dances, I felt a little bit embarrassed, thinking whether we really should accept such welcome.
3 days of joys and sorrows
3 days of living at JimmaGeneti. During that time we’ve met our patronized child Felmeta and many other children, finding out about their joys and pain.
One day I went together with Felmeta to get some water from the well. Instead of water bottles he used old oil cans that still had scraps of gasoline left – one could not bear to drink that water. The child seemed to be struggling with it, so I raised the water from the well into the cans myself, but I felt frustrated at the contradiction that I had to pour that kind of water with my own hands. They were in an urgent need for drinkable water. Of course, the things in the village are already changing with the drinkable water pump installed by World Vision, but keeping in mind the overall number of population, it is hard for everyone to get a speckle of clean water. It’s still a place that desperately needs our help.
A young fatherless child who’s helping his mother raise his twin sibling, a child that was born already infected with AIDS, a household with a father who’s so ill with elephantiasis he cannot wear usual shoes. Giving away the gifts we have prepared and the shoes, we showed them how to protect their feet with socks and washed them with wet tissues, but knowing that many families go living in this kind of pain every single day made me feel powerless. And I thought: “Compared to them I lead a very comfortable and happy life. If people were interested in these issues, perhaps it would be possible to make the world a better place, if not immediately, at least someday in the future.” It is said that during the Korean War Ethiopia sent support troops of6000, and more than 200 soldiers were killed in action. However, afterwards due to the coup d’état the standard of living began to degrade in Ethiopia. So I thought that even though the things I did on my own were very small, giving a big hope and letting others known about the situation in the country might help the people who once came to aid us when our need was dire.
We’ve also visited the World Vision School. I was amazed to see the children appear one after another from all over the field, mountains and forests. We’ve got to know them better while singing songs, playing football, running, building a camp fire. It got me thinking watching how they were so eager on living without complaining, even when their hard everyday life was full of hunger: “Despite the fact, that it is a small thing, if people who have a slightly bigger share of happiness were to divide it, planting dreams and hope, wouldn’t the future of these children be brighter?”. As I watched the singing and dancing children together with Bongwon-hyung, we talked about how by providing good conditions for these children we might witness the birth of another talented global star. These children are that gifted and talented, and the future we can dream of is endless.
The happiness of being alive, the pleasure of being able to help and love that comes with it
We bought sheep and an apple tree for Felmeta as gifts. He said that he was raising a sheep from another household, because his family didn’t have livestock, but we just wanted to let him know what it feels like looking after your own sheep, milking it, bonding with the animal. As for the apple tree, we planted it, having been told that it would bear fruit 3 years later. With that once again, we wanted him to be able to feel that you’re able to pick the fruit that bears the equivalent of love and affection you have given to the tree while looking after it. So we didn’t tell him it was an apple tree. Wouldn’t he be surprised and happy to see the apples appear suddenly after a few years
It’s been 3 weeks already and as I look back writing this, everything feels like a dream. Actually, I’m still very busy even as I write this, but whenever I think of Ethiopia, I’m simply happy. I don’t want to tell Felmeta and the other children to remember me. Just, if you get a chance to give happiness to someone else as you grow older, don’t forget the time when you received the help from others – I wish you became people able to help someone, who has it a lot harder. That’s why happiness is being alive, joy is being able to help someone else, and I wish you would find out that love blooms through all that.