A Laotian schoolgirl wiping her face as tiredness starts to show as she watches a parade on National Day in the capital, Vientiane in this file photo (AFP)

By UCA News reporter

Dec 4 2023

A South Korean children’s charity has launched a month-long exhibition-cum-sale of spiritual articles to raise funds to support education and other needs of poor children in Mongolia and Laos.

The fundraiser event titled “Every Child is a Flower” in the capital Seoul runs from Dec 1 to Jan 7 next year, Good News, the news portal of Seoul Archdiocese, reported on Dec 1.

The charity, Blooming Kids, is hosting the program that features the works of nine Korean artists and sculptors. It is themed “Empty Hands.”

The charity began in 2015 as a “public benefit corporation to continue sharing,” said its chairperson Jemma Hong-soo.

All proceeds would go to aid the poor children in Laos and Mongolia, she said.

The donations would give the children “dreams and hope and a little better environment and life opportunities,” she said.

“We may not be able to completely change their lives, but at least they will feel empathy, communication, and love that they have shared with someone in their lives during their growing-up years,” she added.

The exhibition artwork includes bells, crucifixes, wooden rosaries, photographs, and other items that visitors could see and purchase.

The charity started in 2015 as an arts-sharing activity and then started donating proceeds from the sales for underprivileged children in South Korea and beyond, Good News reported.

Since 2022, the organization has focused on improving the educational environment for ethnic minority children in Laos by remodeling schools in remote villages.

In South Korea, it also runs projects serving the psychological and emotional needs of children.

In Laos, the mean years of school is 5.3 years and the low spending on education is reflected in low education quality and learning in Laos, according to a 2022 report from the Christian charity, World Vision.

The mean years is the average number of completed years of education of a country’s population aged 25 years and older, excluding years spent repeating individual grades, according to UNESCO.

While the average student spends over 10.8 years in school, he/she learns the equivalent of only 6.4 years during that period, the report said.

Nearly 40 percent of children under the age of 5; a crucial period for neural development; have no access to early learning opportunities, the report added.

In Mongolia, a child who starts school at age 4 is expected to complete 13.2 years of school by age 18 and is expected to learn the equivalent of 9.2 years, says a World Bank report released earlier this year. 

The primary school completion rate was at 97 percent in 2021 compared to 93 percent in 2016.

Mongolia’s national poverty headcount rate in 2020 was 27.8 percent, a marginal decrease from 27.2 percent in 2018, according to the World Bank. – UCA News