By JO3 Glenn Briggs
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.