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Monk provides home, hope to abandoned ch

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  • sunny_jo888
    Monk provides home, hope to abandoned children by Juhn Ik-jin January 09, 2002 UIJEONGBU ? It is 2 in the afternoon and the yard in front of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 10, 2002
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      Monk provides home, hope to abandoned children
      <br>by Juhn Ik-jin<br>January 09, 2002 <br>UIJEONGBU ?
      It is 2 in the afternoon and the yard in front of
      Tongilanguk Buddhist Temple here in Gyeonggi province is
      bustling with children. Ten children are riding their
      sleighs down a makeshift slope on one side of the yard. A
      Buddhist priest in his early 50s is busy picking up fallen
      kids and pushing sleighs that have gotten stuck. He
      stops to pretend he is wounded by the snowballs that
      some of the mischievous children have thrown at him.
      The laughter on the priest's face is as gleeful as
      the children's as he rides the sleigh down the slope
      with them. <br>The monk Jisan, 51, has been a "daddy"
      for 13 years. The guardian priest of this temple, he
      takes care of children who have been abandoned by their
      family. From a 2-month-old baby to a 20-year-old young
      adult, Jisan takes care of a family of 48 by
      himself.<br>His day begins at 4:40 a.m. when he wakes up to check
      on the kids. After an hour of worship from 5 a.m. to
      6 a.m., his day is devoted to looking after the
      children until he goes to bed at midnight. He changes
      diapers, picks up the clothes that lie strewn everywhere,
      feeds the stubborn children and helps solve difficult
      math problems.<br>Sometimes he stays up late into the
      night to give advice on dating and relationships for
      the middle and high school children. Often there's a
      child or two who needs to be taken to the hospital in
      the middle of the night.<br>Two hundred sponsors send
      monthly funds, but it still isn't enough to feed the huge
      family, so he goes out to ask for alms of rice and other
      goods whenever he can. The leftover food from a nearby
      high school cafeteria oftentimes becomes the
      children's meal. A bakery also gives them bread and pastries
      from the day's leftovers. <br>Jisan's family started
      in April 1990. A 1-year-old girl who had been
      abandoned by her divorced parents was his first child. She
      is now in the fifth grade, having grown up happily
      with the monk as her dad. After realizing how many
      abandoned children there are, Jisan converted the first
      floor of the 90-square meter, two-story temple building
      into a children's room and started his life as a
      Buddhist priest dad.<br>As the family grew, he built two
      130-square-meter temporary buildings to use for the children's
      bedrooms and dining hall. He says he's had great help from
      the two elderly women who live at the temple and take
      care of the meals. In addition, five volunteers
      consisting of housewives and college students have been
      teaching the children extracurricular activities such as
      English, traditional music, art and piano since last
      March.<br>Jisan's biggest worry now that winter has arrived is the
      children's baths. There are no bathing facilities at the
      temple, so he has to divide the children into three or
      four groups and take them to the public bathhouse once
      a week. <br>"These kids have been hurt before,"
      says the monk. "I am just trying to make sure that
      they don't get hurt again. I just wish we had adequate
      facilities for the children to live without any major
      discomforts."<br>The Tongilanguk Temple can be reached at 031-876-2235
      (Korean service only).
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