Distribution of relief goods to the Turkiye border area
All Muslims who believe in Islam observe fasting from sunrise to sunset during the 30-day period of Ramadan. At 6:30am, Venerable Pomnyun Sunim along with the Shafak activists departed for the Watan Camp located near the Syrian border. While en route, we met and traveled together with local activists from the White Helmets, a civil organization established to aid those in need in the most dangerous areas. The White Helmets have been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize and have also received “Manhae Award” in South Korea.
After passing through several large refugee camps, we arrived at the Watan Camp around 11am. Today, we will distribute supplies to 2,000 households. Considering the hot weather, the refugees were scheduled to arrive in groups of several hundred at different times. Venerable Pomnyun Sunim and the JTS emergency relief team greeted the refugees and immediately began distributing food provisions. Each box contained 14 food items and weighed over 40 kg. Some elderly and children found it difficult to carry the boxes, so the volunteer activists helped carry them.
After two hours of distribution without a break, Sunim explored the school in the camp. The school not only provided for the education of the children, it also included playtime for their mental health. At the school, children happened to be playing. After watching them play for a while, Sunim joined them in a game.
Afterward, Sunim returned to continue the food distribution, and a local journalist requested a brief interview with him.
Despite the hot weather, everyone continued with the distribution without taking a sip of water due to Ramadan. Even the young men were exhausted, with their shoulders drooping and hands swollen, but their faces remained bright.
As planned, we finished the distribution at 2:30pm. Once the distribution was completed, people, regardless of age or gender, gathered around Venerable Pomnyun Sunim to express their gratitude. Among them was an elderly man with white hair and beard.
“Thank you so much.”
“Yes, may I ask how old you are?”
“I’m seventy. I must be much older than you then! (laughs)”
We took lots of individual and group photos, and a commemorative photo with the 50 volunteers who served today. After tidying up, we moved to the White Helmets headquarters under the protection of local police vehicles. We arrived at the headquarters at 3pm and engaged in conversation with representatives from Shafak and the White Helmets. Venerable Pomnyun Sunim expressed his sincere hope to the White Helmets representative that the victims would successfully overcome the current difficulties caused by the earthquake.
“The efforts of the White Helmets in helping their fellow citizens were truly impressive. Korea also has a history of overcoming difficulties by forming independence movements during the Japanese colonial period. Such experiences have instilled a sense of pride in us. I hope you will continue to maintain this spirit of independence and overcome challenges forever.”
Shafak’s representative expressed deep admiration for the Venerable Pomnyun Sunim’s presence on the field today.
“We faced several challenges during the day, but Sunim always maintained a smile and quietly carried out his work. Thanks to Sunim, the field volunteers were able to stay focused and complete the distribution of supplies safely. Thank you.”
After the conversation, the activists from the three organizations stood side by side and took a photo together.