We’re in full force on our campaign to bring 200 North Korean refugees to freedom, but we wanted to take a moment to focus on one of our incredible fundraisers. Though this campaign was launched less than three weeks ago, Bethany has already raised enough to bring TWO North Korean refugees to freedom. But this isn’t Bethany’s first rodeo—over the last year, she’s also funded rescues for two other people, including Song Hyun.
Thanks to Bethany’s fundraising efforts, Song Hyun is now enjoying a life of safety and freedom with his family in South Korea.
Q: How did you first get interested in this issue?
A: Because I’m Jewish, I’ve always been interested in human rights abuses and genocide in world history. The first book I read about the situation in North Korea was “The Aquariums of Pyongyang” and it got me hooked. Several books I read regarding refugees specifically mentioned Liberty in North Korea as a way that refugees were able to escape to South Korea. I had been doing research into how I could get involved and donate, and LiNK was the only non-Christian group that seemed to be operating. I have nothing against Christian groups, I think they do incredible work, but as a Jew, I felt most comfortable donating and working with a secular organization whose sole mission was rescue.
Q: Why did you decide to fundraise for refugee rescues?
A: I imagine my children one day asking me what I did to help. I wanted to be able to answer them with an honest heart. The first rescue I launched I had no idea if I would be able to make the goal. It happened in under a week or two. I was floored and inspired and it led me to hold other fundraisers, usually around Jewish holidays where the theme is freedom (Passover) or renewal (Rosh HaShanah/Yom Kippur).
Q: What do you focus on when trying to raise money for your rescue campaign?
A: Just getting it done. I am really touched by every donation, from strangers, friends and family. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook while I’m doing a fundraiser, I’m pretty relentless and probably kind of annoying. I have a very large Twitter following because of what I do professionally (I work in conservative politics). The conservatives that follow me are kind-hearted, generous, and lovers of freedom. The work that LiNK does resonates with them greatly.
Q: When you’re in a donation slump, how do you turn things around?
A: I try to be honest. “I haven’t had a donation today” is usually what I say. I need your help, I can’t do this alone. Make people feel needed, because they are.
Q: What advice would you give to people who get discouraged during their rescue campaign?
A: Reach out to everyone you know and ask them to share stories about North Korea, educate people before hitting them up for donations. Try to spread awareness, and with that awareness will come a desire to help.
Q: What are some creative ways you get people to donate to your page?
A: I’m not terribly creative, I just shamelessly beg all day long on social media, and thankfully that usually works. The jokes I’ve made about the things I’ll do if someone donates never resonate in actual donations. It’s a serious topic and people respond to serious requests for help.
Q: How does it feel when you successfully raise enough to rescue a refugee?
A: There’s a saying in the Talmud, basically if you save a life, you’ve saved the world. I feel like I’ve saved the world.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to the North Korean people or to refugees hiding in China?
A: There are so many people out there who care, who want better for your lives, who know you deserve better.