Our Shirt of the Month for April is focused on Refugee Rescues, the flagship program of our organization. 335 North Korean refugees have reached freedom through this program to date and we’re continually scaling it to help as many North Koreans as possible make the life-changing journey to a safe country.
The design of this shirt (available in four color options) illustrates the 3,000-mile trek through unfamiliar terrain in China and Southeast Asia that North Korean refugees must undertake to reach our team.
Saying it’s a difficult journey is a massive understatement that doesn’t come close to encompassing the amount of stress refugees are under as they travel to safety.
“The most difficult part of escaping was thinking about NOT getting caught. Getting caught is the road to death.” – Hyun Mi
“We can’t have tears on our faces, but our hearts do. We even develop resentment against our nation—if our country lived well, why would we have to come out this way, going through different nations dangerously?” – Shin Ae
There is never 100% security in trying to reach freedom, so the moment the refugees connect with our field coordinators is often the first time they have felt secure. After they take their first steps in a safe country, we often hear sighs of relief and excited exclamations that they have finally made it.
“At last, the 17 years have ended.” – Joon Hee
We provide comfort, rest, and assistance to the refugees who come under our care. We cook meals for them, wash their clothes, thoroughly explain their options for resettlement, and answer any questions they might have. Before they leave to resettle in a third country like South Korea, the United States, or Canada, we throw a small farewell party to celebrate their new lives.
During one of these occasions, the refugees held an impromptu talent show. One young woman started singing and pulled up one of our field coordinators to dance with her. It was a very endearing moment. We were surprised by (and in admiration of) her outgoing personality and her willingness to have fun even after she had been through so much.
“I am so grateful to LiNK for opening the road to my destiny.” – Sae Won
Our team is often the first exposure that North Korean refugees have to people from South Korea and the United States. Many of them have only heard negative things about foreigners, but once we spend time together sharing stories, eating meals, and building a human connection, their perceptions often change. It’s incredible how close we become in such a short amount of time, and it makes the goodbyes that much more difficult.
When you buy this month’s shirt, 100% of your $20 purchase will go toward Refugee Rescues, enabling us to bring more North Korean refugees to freedom. Get the shirt!