"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." — Nelson Mandela
North Korea blocks its citizens from leaving the country or interacting with the outside world. Despite the threat of torture or even public execution, more than 30,000 North Korean refugees have escaped to South Korea, where English is a vital skill. Despite some government programs, many refugees find themselves at a loss when they make it into the country. In March 2013, Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) was founded to help North Korean refugees adjust. So far, 250 refugees have studied with and been mentored by 440 volunteers around the world through TNKR.The organization is run by volunteers preparing and connecting refugees with opportunities to adjust to living outside of North Korea.
Who runs TNKR?
TNKR was founded by Casey Lartigue, Jr. (an advocate, activist for freedom and a political commentator, among many other things) and Eunkoo Lee (government researcher with a focus on young North Korean refugees). They, along with a team of passionate volunteers, are forging the way. Read more about TNKR on its website.
TNKR runs entirely on donations and none of its staff takes a salary.
South Korea is also a country where the concept of civil society, donations and philanthropy are in their early years. So TNKR pushes forward without enough support, making due with heart and the pockets of its own volunteers.
What can we do?
I am asking you to help support TNKR and the work they do giving a voice to refugees from North Korea. If we can empower people who have impactful, important things to share, we set the world on a path to a brighter future.
As many of you know, I just completed my master's in International Public Policy at UCL. I am proud to say I graduated with highest honors, focusing my coursework on nonprofit organizations, impact reporting, and advocating for more inclusive understanding of world politics. While I know that my community would happily offer me congratulatory gifts and messages, I want to ask that this be channelled into the causes and experiences that have pushed me to complete this master's program and shaped my worldview. Please let your kindness power the success of others!
Written by TNKR volunteer Sarah Stricker