IT is more blessed to give than to receive.
These seminal words ring true for four Good News Corps (GNCorps) overseas volunteers from South Korea who spent a year serving in Lesotho.
For Eunhye Lee (20), Kun Young Kim (24), Kang Jean Ui (21) and Ha Eun Jee (20) the voluntary work helped to transform them from people who only thought about themselves to caring about the plight of others.
The quartet said this during their farewell ceremony in Maseru on Tuesday ahead of their departure today.
The South Korean youths arrived in Lesotho in February 2016 to engage in various social initiatives under the auspices of GNCorps — an International Youth Fellowship (IYF) volunteering initiative that helps to develop the next generation’s leaders by instilling a broadened view of the world and the spirit for self-sacrifice.
Addressing the gathering, IYF Country Director Jonah Hong said GNCorps sent college-aged men and women overseas to experience different aspects of foreign culture such as the language, cuisine, music, architecture, sports, and traditional performances.
GNCorps mission activities include visitations, spiritual counseling, youth and community outreach, Sunday school teaching, and mission journeys to remote locations. Volunteers enrich their host countries by providing training in such areas as computer literacy, language, and music among others.
Mr Hong said the four volunteers, who were the first batch to be dispatched to Lesotho, deserved commendation for choosing to come to serve in a little known country like the Mountain Kingdom.
He said the work was actually doing more good to the volunteers than to those they were helping since they had been reformed by the process.
“This is not just a volunteer programme. It is a programme that is helping to change the hearts and minds of young people who are wandering in their lives without any purpose,” said Mr Hong.
He also revealed that they were training a group of Basotho youth volunteers who would be dispatched to different countries around the world.
One of the volunteers, Mr Kim, said coming to Lesotho had provided him with an opportunity to reflect on his life away from home.
“When I came here, there were so many things that I wanted to do including learning English, creating good memories and experiences with a view to succeeding in my home country South Korea,” he said.
“I had studied English but I had to memorize what I wanted to say since it was still difficult. I, however, couldn’t understand what other people were saying in English, and I was so irritated.
“I came to realize that I couldn’t understand what was being said because I was not listening and was focusing only on myself rather than taking care of other people’s needs.”
Mr Kim added: “In Lesotho, I got the opportunity to objectively look at myself and my life for the first time. I realized that I could and am going to be a great person. Happiness would be attained by defeating evil to ensure success and peace.”
Mr Kim said he had also learnt a lot about Basotho cuisine which he intended to introduce to his family back home.
“I have eaten and know how to cook Lesotho’s traditional foods such as papa, moroho and chakalaka! I bought the ingredients for those dishes so I can prepare them to my family and my friends when I get back home.”
In his remarks, Education and Training Deputy Minister Thabang Kholumo said the IYF initiatives were exactly what Basotho needed to shift their mindset.
“Our interest is mainly in the Mindset Education programme which IYF offers to young people. We maintain that our youth are not an exception to the rest of the world, and fall victim to the same problems of the youth worldwide,” he said.
“Mindset Education is not only relevant to the youth in this country, but even to the old people. We are a highly polarised nation, and trivial issues can bring about conflict. Unless we change our mindset, this country will never develop.”
Mr Kholumo said the IYF would help Lesotho reach its potential.
“We live in the midst of abundant natural resources but remain a poor country. We have one of the highest literacy rates in Africa but we remain a least developed country. I think through IYF, we are going to realize the potential we have as Basotho.”
IYF was established in Lesotho in 2015 at the invitation of the ministries of Education and Training as well as Youth and Gender.