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Providing Peace to Refugees

6/20/2019

By Andrew Fowler

‘Peace Center’ supported by Knights of Columbus in South Korea gives refugees shelter and education

Two single mothers fled with their children

SEOUL, South Korea — Two single mothers fled with their children from Egypt to South Korea to escape persecution. They entered a country with little to no financial support or knowledge of the Korean language and culture.

But South Korean Knights of Columbus gave them peace of mind.

Andy Daeun Lee of St. Andrew Taegon Kim Council 16000 established the Peace Refugee Center — also known as “Peace Home.” He retired as a psychologist in 2007, and now provides counseling to refugees.

One refugee was a single mother who fled to South Korea with her infant. As soon as he met the mother, Lee said he knew he wanted to do more than provide counseling and job placement.

“I felt that it was more than necessary to provide the sleeping place, food and clothing needed for themselves and their babies,” Lee said. “I asked the Korean Knights of Columbus to build the Peace Refugee Center to help refugees in Korea as one of its charitable organizations.”

On April 10, Peace Refugee Center was opened. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson attended the ceremony along with Bishop Francis Xavier Soo-il Yu of the Military Ordinariate of Korea, who blessed the facility.

“The Knights of Columbus gives us a new way to express today the Korean tradition of the role of the laity,” Anderson said to the local council leaders present. “We do this by offering a practical way to follow a path of Catholic brotherhood.”

The Knights of Columbus has present in South Korea since 2007, with seven councils — three military, four civilian — and more than 175 members.

The facility provides legal assistance for refugees to obtain visa recognition, which can take from 5 to 6 years. The Peace Refugee Center will help provide food, clothing and day-care, as well as develop skills necessary for employment including learning the Korean language and culture.

“The ultimate goal of the Peace Refugee Center is to help refugees settle down and live in Korea,” Lee said.

In addition, Lee offers psychological counseling.

“They must be encouraged enough to survive in a totally different country,” Lee said. “Full of psychological, mental and spiritual strength.”

Knights of Columbus councils support refugees all over the world through the Supreme Council’s Christian Refugee Relief Fund. The Knights of Columbus also championed the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018 signed last December by President Donald Trump.

“The Knights of Columbus has an honored mission to devote and develop life, liberty and peace in this Korean land,” Lee said. “I pray and strive to be faithful to this call of God as a Knight of Columbus.”

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Share your story with andrew.fowler@kofc.org