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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Volunteers share pain in Jindo

Lending a hand: Turkish men preparing kebabs at an outdoor kitchen set up in front of Jindo Gymnasium on Jindo Island. — Yonhap

Lending a hand: Turkish men preparing kebabs at an outdoor kitchen set up in front of Jindo Gymnasium on Jindo Island. — Yonhap

As grief over the sinking of the ill-fated ferry spreads across South Korea, people have been asking how they can help.

SEOUL: Jindo Island is being flooded with thousands of volunteers from across the country who have come to hold the hands, wipe the tears and share the pain of families still waiting for signs of their loved ones.

From college students and parents to foreign residents, volunteers have set up kitchens, supply centres and clinics outside of Jindo Gymnasium, which is serving as a shelter for the families, and at Paengmok Port, where they are waiting for the bodies of the victims.

Others have been washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms and delivering fresh water for the families exhausted from the endless waiting.

At the gym, others hold up pieces of paper asking whether they have clothes to be washed or carry bananas and packs of milk to feed family members who have hardly eaten out of despair.

Volunteers silently move around, making their best efforts not to disturb the grief-stricken families. Authorities say more than 12,000 people have worked as volunteers in the town over the last eight days.

“I have a daughter who is also 17 years old, the same as their daughters are … I just wanted to be here … which is the least I could do for them,” said a woman interviewed by YTN, a local cable news channel.

Hopes are fading for a miracle as rescuers have not found a single survivor since the day the ill-fated ferry Sewol sank on April 16.

Divers have yet to find an air pocket on the third or fourth deck, where most of the passenger bedrooms and the ship’s restaurant are located.

As of Thursday afternoon, divers had retrieved 171 bodies, with 131 still missing.

As grief over the sinking has spread across the country, people have been sending supplies and asking how they can help.

Boxes full of supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, paper cups and even clean underwear have reached the town from students across the country, along with handwritten letters praying for their safe return.

Foreign volunteers have also arrived at the seaside town.

A group of 11 Turks living in Korea had set up a kebab kitchen in front of Jindo Gymnasium on Thursday.

“We pray for the Sewol victims and for the safe return of the missing. From Turkey, your brother country,” said a banner put up around the kitchen.

The Turkish volunteers said they wanted to stand by people suffering from the excruciating pain of losing family members in return for the compassion that Koreans showed back in 1999, when Turkey suffered from a deadly earthquake.

“Our families and friends in Turkey have been paying close attention to the sinking of the ferry Sewol,” one Turkish volunteer was quoted as saying by Newsis, a local news agency.

“I hope the families of the victims have not given up yet with this piece of kebab we prepared. We wish for a miracle to happen,” he said.

Tags / Keywords: Regional , Opinion , Korea , ferry disaster


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