I actually finished the “birth mother syndrome” project last month at the same time that the study group was finishing their study on Family Ties by Lee Jun-Il. The author who is also a professor, actually came to the last study group meeting to discuss his book and members were able to ask questions and give feedback. I attended and was able to follow the discussion thanks to the help of another adoptee, who was nice enough to provide me with the basic translations throughout the meeting.
My field educator, Han Seo Seung-hee (who was sadly leaving KUMSN to advance her studies), gave me the opportunity to choose what kind of project or work I would like to do next with my interests in mind. Because KUMSN is a new organization, my initial interests were in developing more formal tools or processes that would help the organization with future funding and enable them to collect concrete data on their effectiveness or to demonstrate the need for tangible and societal support to unwed mothers. My ideas included creating an intake process, creating and conducting a needs assessment, and either begin to think about or develop measures for program evaluation. However, KUMSN is almost too new as an NGO and the main priority is to secure long-term funding or fiscal partnership in order to continue operating and be able to sustain in Korea.
However, the donor and community giving atmosphere in Korea is very different than it is currently in the U.S. While there seems to be a shift in the business and corporate world to community giving and its impact on social and environmental issues (as well as greater tax incentives), there is little pressure on leaders in the Korean corporate world to give back. Most financial opportunities and grants that are available in Korea are through the federal government, institutions for higher education, foundations, and private opportunities.
Also, there is a much greater level of involvement for donors and grantors in the organization’s operations and activities than what is common in the U.S. That is, financial contributors have greater power and influence as a stakeholder in NGO’s which often do not align with the organization’s value system or mission. There is also the problem in Korea and for KUMSN especially, with an unwillingness to fund or donate to an organization because the cause or mission is seen as controversial or radical. Since there is still such a strong stigma on unwed mothers who are pregnant or choose to raise their children, many companies and organizations are not interested in supporting or are concerned about their image if they became affiliated.
From what I have heard from others, the topic of unwed mothers is a hot issue currently and support (or opposition) may change in the future as a result of a popular Korean drama called “Childless Comfort” or 무자식 상팔자 in Korean.
As many of us know, the depiction of a social issue in the media can have a significant impact on the attitudes and beliefs of the general public which may help or hinder the efforts of organizations like KUMSN and KUMFA.
Since the current funding source for KUMSN has only agreed to a two-year contract in which this will mark their final year, there is a significant amount of pressure for KUMSN to become self-sustaining or to locate other sources of funding in order to continue with their activities and advocacy for unwed mothers in Korea. Recently, they received a donation of 1,220,000 KWN ($1112 USD) from Nuffic Neso Korea which will go towards the education of the general public about the issue of unwed mothers and raising awareness. KUMSN also receives in-kind donations such as baby clothing and other items from other voluntary groups through the “cafe network” in Korea, which seems to be similar to “Meetup.com”.
Because of the lack of domestic support on the issue of unwed mothers and the poor environment for charitable giving in South Korea, KUMSN is seeking international opportunities for funding, grants, and fiscal partnerships or sponsors. It is an area that I am not very familiar with but I have had a desire to learn more about writing grant proposals since securing funding is not limited to the interests of South Korean NGO’s but is in demand worldwide. I have located a few opportunities including the Global Fund for Women at www.globalfundforwomen.org, Mama Cash at www.mamacash.org, as well as other international women’s and human right’s funding websites and will begin drafting a prelimary proposal or application to the ones I have located.
If you or someone you know is interested in supporting KUMSN or has information about international funding and grant opportunities, please contact me or the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information about the organization’s activities, achievements, impact, and how you can help can be found on the “About Field Organization: KUMSN” page linked above or visit their website Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network
Unwed mothers in Korean media: