Repairing and Supplying Houses for Poverty Alleviation – KU-HOPE
Well-furnished and newly repaired houses; the United Nations (UN) recognizes “adequate housing” as a right for everyone.
Lee Min Jong ('19, Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering) is observed working hard to repair a house.
Provided by KU-HOPE
Not many student clubs are dedicated to hard labor, yet student volunteers from KU-HOPE, also informally known as the Korea University (KU) Home Repair Volunteer Club, have been repairing houses since 2017. Although its main tasks focus on wallpaper and floorboard replacements, ceiling repair, fixing lights, and cleaning, it also lends its effort to other disaster relief and poverty reduction jobs as well. More importantly, all the jobs done are free of charge, and students are not paid wages for their hard work. Nevertheless, they feel satisfied and proud in making their community better for everyone.
A Helping Hand for Those Living Under a Roof
Officially, KU-HOPE is part of the KU Social Service Organization (KUSSO), Hope Bridge Korea Disaster Relief Association (HBKRA), and partners with the Seongbuk-gu and Seongdong-gu Governments. These organizations are mostly responsible for funding the club. Moreover, due to its organizational status, the club, composed of around 80 members, receives more than three volunteer requests every month from people who are looking to repair their house but cannot afford to do so. Its status as a volunteer organization also allows it to teach new members how to fix homes properly and become more inclusive towards the public, which raises awareness on issues concerning financial difficulty and poverty.
Anyone interested in bringing hope for others, breaking a bit of a sweat, and getting volunteering hours may become part of KU-HOPE by checking the Instagram page @ku_hope_. Recruitment advertisements are posted one month before every semester – February and August – and students must submit an application indicating their interest.
KU-HOPE members seen placing damp proof foil paper to prevent the growth of mold in the walls. Provided by KU-HOPE
To gain more information about KU-HOPE, The Granite Tower (GT) interviewed the President for the year 2021, Yoon Jisung (‘18, Biomedical Engineering).
GT: Please introduce the role of KU-HOPE to the general community and talk about its importance.
Yoon: The Home Repair Volunteering Club, KU-HOPE, mainly promotes the improvement of residential environments and buildings by painting, installing floorboards, and replacing lights for basic living recipients. New wallpaper is hung and floorboards are installed in areas stained with mold or exposed to concrete, and broken lights are replaced to create a pleasant residential environment for beneficiaries. KU-HOPE strives to improve and provide solid help to citizens in need of house repairs or whose housing is in desperate need of restoration due to natural disasters such as typhoons or earthquakes but who cannot seem to afford it.
GT: What are some challenges members face when volunteering?
Yoon: Well, members of KU-HOPE usually do volunteering work from 8:30 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., which has proven to be physically and strenuous. Often times, the working environment is not good because derelict houses are sometimes full of bugs and mold. On one occasion, on May 21, 2022, I was tasked to visit a semi-basement house which was full of mold. Thus, members accompanying me for volunteer work had to scrape off the mold using steel tools and proceed by attaching a damp proof foil paper to prevent moisture from continuing to grow inside the walls.
Moreover, since May was heading in the direction of summer and the weather was extremely humid, it proved hard to breathe and work at the same time. Here’s an important notion to consider though: although we only had to experience these conditions for a day, the beneficiary receiving the repair has had to live through this poor environment for years. So, we realized that we had to work even harder so that the beneficiary could have better living conditions in the future.
GT: How do members from KU-HOPE feel after completing approximately eight hours of volunteering and completing a hard job?
Yoon: Two words: extremely satisfied. When we finished repairing a house for a volunteering request on October 8, 2022, a child we did not know suddenly barged into the house. The child, who unbeknownst to us lived in the house, shouted: “Wow! The house got better!” You can imagine the emotions we felt that day. In fact, one of the volunteers whom I worked with that day, Kwak Jin-seop (’19, Health and Environmental Science), said he “sensed his weariness vanish, took pride, and felt proud seeing the beneficiary’s love and looked forward to the next house repair volunteering service.”
GT: Besides volunteering, what other activities does KU-HOPE have to offer to its members?
Yoon: In addition to repairing houses, our club offers many social activities to uplift members’ morale. I organized various events including room escape, board games, and two-day travels to hotspots around South Korea. For example, during the summer vacation, members went to a valley featuring rivers and waterfalls to have some fun in the water. On another occasion, members also visited *Ocean World*, considered by many as one of the most popular water parks here in Korea. Lastly, we try to host several climbing and mountaineering sessions several times every month. Almost 20 percent or approximately one-fifth of KU-HOPE members attend these sessions to exercise and to have fun. Thus, anyone, really, can join this club to have fun.
GT: Who can apply to be a student volunteer at KU-HOPE? Are there any special requirements for application?
Yoon: Anyone who wants to help others, make new friends, enjoy youth while it lasts, and learn how to repair houses can apply during the recruitment period before the start of every semester. Even if you are unfamiliar with the term “home repair,” we are dedicated to teaching you through fun and interactive lessons. In KU-HOPE, not everyone who joined was familiar with home repair, but became good over time, so feel free to apply! Passion, active participation, cooperation, and certainly the ability to empathize with others are important skills that members get to learn through club activities, so it is important to keep that in mind!
KU-HOPE memebrs are seen gluing a special type of paper to put interior wallpaper afterwards. Provided by KU-HOPE
Volunteers are seeing preparing glue for interior wallpapers. Provided by KU-HOPE
One of the challenging parts of house repair volunteering: installing new wallpapers, is observed in this picture. Photographed by Lee Sang-jun
Written by Lee Sang-jun (email@example.com)
Provided by The Granite Tower(http://www.thegranitetower.com)