Updated: Aug 17
Come along with me and my friends on our journey to volunteer and share the love around Seoul! Maybe, we'll meet you there?
I have loved to volunteer and give my time to a good cause since I can't remember when. I grew up with a very loving and generous family, my parents and sister have never really said "no" when someone asked them for help. My dad would literally give someone our house if they asked (I'm joking, but not joking). There's just something so special about serving others and an inspiration that just flows freely when you are part of a community that gives. The physical act of loving and giving is one that you will always remember. Having a genuine heart for those you serve and give to will make a world of difference for me even if the gesture is small.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
Where can I volunteer?
The first group I would like to introduce you to is Korea International Volunteers!
I found this wonderful group on the 'Meet Up' app/website. After months and months of searching for volunteer groups around Seoul (amid Covid), I finally found a group that I could volunteer with. This group works primarily in homeless shelters and orphanages.
Preparing food for the homeless is something that is very close to my heart. Back home in New Zealand, a group of the most amazing people you will ever meet (you know who you are) and I prepared home-cooked meals (or bought pizza as seen in the video for Pizza Runs) and care packs when possible for the homeless around parts of Auckland City. We called ourselves the Homeless Run. You can check us out in the video below:
The Korea International Volunteers group are some of the kindest and most beautiful souls I have ever met. Their love for those they serve and love towards the people that join their group is unmatched. The leader of this group is the wonderful James and you'll probably hear a lot from the lovely Odette too.
The Volunteer Experience
For those of you who are unfamiliar with volunteering, specifically at homeless shelters here in Korea, your typical day looks like this:
Wake up early, get dressed into comfortable clothes you're not afraid to get dirty, travel to the shelter, say hello to your friends at the shelter and start working - this could include cutting Kimchi/side dishes (김치/반찬) frying jeon (Korean savory pancakes 전), cleaning and preparing plates and take-home snacks, cutting up fruit or vegetables, helping in and around the shelter (e.g. the garden or shed) while doing this you can also chat and have fun! After a hard day's work at the shelter, the group usually spends time together either by sharing a meal or going to the beach or any other leisurely activity you can think of!
Garak Market Homeless Shelter and Thomas Homeless Shelter (Yeongdeungpo)
The Garak Market Homeless Shelter feeds hundreds of people a day and general tasks include cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, serving, garbage disposal, and other jobs around the shelter. Check the SLIDESHOW below to see what volunteering at the Garak Market Shelter looks like:
The Thomas Homeless Shelter roughly feeds from 400-500 people on a daily basis. Volunteering at this shelter is usually in the form of parts, namely Part 1, Part 2, or both. Part 1 is the preparation of the food to be served that day and Part 2 is serving the food to the people that come into the shelter to eat. This is the general structure of the day and for more information regarding safety and the specific shelters, I'd recommend you to head to the Meet Up App/website. Check the SLIDESHOW below to see what volunteering at the Thomas Homeless Shelter looks like:
Urgent Disaster Relief after the rains/flooding in Seoul 2022
This wonderful group also did some urgent disaster relief work last year after the severe flooding in Seoul. Click HERE to learn more about the floods. A lot of people were impacted by the floods, there were a vast number of people who had several items destroyed due to water damage, especially in basements/semi-basements. Check the SLIDESHOW below to see what volunteering for urgent disaster relief can look like:
I have made lifetime friends from this group. This group is a positive and fun-loving team, that serves with their whole heart. I recently volunteered at the Thomas Homeless Shelter for the first time and the feeling of pure content I felt to be able to serve those who walked through the shelter doors was something I can't fully describe. I was also nervous don't get me wrong but eventually that fades as you just work and have fun doing so.
One thing I would like to say about this group is that if you are wanting to volunteer you do need to sign-up fast as spaces fill up quickly (there is usually a waitlist)! Also, if you do sign up to help and are unable to make it, please just remove your RSVP from the event page so someone else can get their spot and help on the day.
If you are interested in joining us feel free to ask questions in the comments section below or check out the Meet Up App/website, searching for Korea International Volunteers. If you'd like to volunteer but feel a little shy or socially anxious about meeting new people, come along any way you know me now :) Comment below if you've got any questions! See you soon!