Every time North Korean refugees reach safety through our Refugee Rescues Program, we’re inspired by their courage, compassion, and hope for the future. They often tell us how relieved they feel and how much they look forward to living freely and without fear. Hearing their words and seeing them relaxing and joking around makes everything we’re doing worthwhile, and it’s all possible because of the support of incredible people all over the world who donate to or fundraise for rescues.
Billy is one of these world-changers. He got involved after reading ‘Escape from Camp 14’ and joined us at HQ as a Nomad, but he didn’t let his commitment to the North Korean people end there. During our fall campaign, Billy started his fundraising page and was able to raise over $6000. Two refugees will be brought to freedom and receive resettlement support thanks to Billy’s hard work.
We interviewed Billy to get the story behind his motivation to fundraise, as well as some tips to share with those of you who are still fundraising or are planning to start a fundraising page soon.
Q: Why did you decide to start fundraising?
A: I saw the impact that LiNK was making in the underground. Funding refugee rescues became a way for me to help the North Korean people, and also fight against the regime in my own way.
Q: Did being a Nomad change your perception of this issue?
A: I feel so much more hope for the North Korean people and the future of North Korea. We will see freedom come to North Korea, but most exciting is that the North Korean people themselves (and their supporters) will be instrumental in bringing this about.
Q: What was a moment from your time as a Nomad that stood out to you?
A: Our best moments were with awesome contacts and hosts. Carly, a high-schooler in Calgary, took us on a secret tour of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise on our day off. During the week she was an invaluable support system, showing us around town and connecting us with the right people to build LiNK’s presence in Calgary. She organized three events all on her own, and is back at it this spring! It was by meeting people like Carly that I realized we are part of a huge movement, and we are all lucky to have this chance to know each other and serve our fellow man.
Q: How do you think others can inspire their friends and families to donate?
A: One of the best things you can do is offer incentives to give, for example by entering each donor into a drawing. You can be creative with the prizes you offer. I took a different approach in the fall with my seven-day famine. I wanted to do something loud, that showed the gravity of the situation but also encouraged reflection and action. I asked for people to give just $7 and the support I received was amazing. I gave a clear idea of exactly what I was asking for and why. That’s important. But I think people were just surprised that I—a notorious food addict—would voluntarily give up eating for a week!
Q: Why do think this is an important issue?
A: North Korea’s regime is the last of it’s kind. Whenever a people is systematically oppressed and disempowered, it is our duty to fight on their behalf. It is shameful to see how the North Korean regime continues to improve its position at the expense of the average North Korean person.
Q: What would you want to say to the North Korean refugees you’ve helped?
A: You can be anyone. You can do anything. You are so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. So experiment, and explore, and you will be surprised at what you can accomplish.
Q: Why do you think others should get involved in this cause?
A: North Korean refugees in China need help now. You can offer a refugee safety, freedom, a first chance at fulfilling his potential. The biggest reason we need you NOW, however, is that North Korea still has an image problem. Most people think of weapons, the leader, high politics, and they know little to nothing about the average North Korean person’s struggles. We need you to help us change that, so that everyone who has the heart to give will give.
Q: What else are you passionate about?
A: Family, food, language, serving others.