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By JO3 Glenn Briggs


USN Photos

AN AVERAGE of seven children each day are abandoned in Pusan.  Hundreds more roam the streets homeless and hungry.  Offering hope for these deserted children is the Mi Ae Orphanage, maintained by a group of 14 U.S. navy men of the Military Sea Transportation Service office in Pusan.

The orphanage's founder and present director, Mrs. Lee Kyung Soon, started the home during the Korean conflict.  Mrs. Lee lost two of her own children, ages 7 and 9, while fleeing the communists in 1950.  Upon her arrival in Pusan, she began the orphanage in order to keep better contact with other orphanages, hoping to find her missing children.  Her first wards, 15 children whom she found wandering the streets, were housed in tents in 1951.  The enrollment has since increased to 79.

During trips to obtain dunnage and scrap material to maintain the orphanage, she was befriended by U.S. Army personnel who began to contribute to the home.  In June, 1957, the naval unit assumed the main support of the Mi Ae Orphanage, and since then has considered the orphanage "their own."

The first project was to move the pig pen to a new location to improve sanitation.  Windows and doors of the living quarters were screened.  MSTS personnel then took on the task of painting the buildings, inside and out.  Fences were constructed to improve the appearance of the grounds and to discourage gangs of thieves who menace the Pusan area.

A new tile roof put on the boys' living quarters was paid for with a $70 contribution made by personnel of the attack cargo vessel USS Tulare, which visited the port in June, 1957.  MSTS personnel's next project is to put electricity in the home.  Oil lamps are used at present.

As meat is a luxury, Navy sharpshooters hunt pheasants, ducks, geese and rabbits to supplement the meager Korean diet of rice, fish, macaroni and kimchi.  Sustaining an orphanage takes money - and each person, officer and enlisted, contributes at least $2 per month.  Men able to do so contribute much more.  The men are continually writing home asking their families to send them spare clothing.

Assisting MSTS to provide for the orphans is CARE, which has provided $4,022,507 worth of aid throughout the Republic of Korea through contributions made by the people of the United States.  CARE sends food packages and clothing for the children.  The Church World Service also helps with contributions of food products.

The name of the Mi Ae Orphanage was originated by Mrs. Lee.  "Mi" is Korean for "beauty" - for help received from the beautiful country called United States of America.  "Ae" is Korean for "love" - God loves people, people love God.

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