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Free Clinic Care for Overseas Workers

Posted July. 21, 2006 03:02,   


Abdullahman (age: 23), a foreign laborer from Bangladesh, sits waiting to be treated by a doctor in the hallway of the foreigners-only hospital in Garibong-dong, Guro-gu, Seoul on Wednesday afternoon. He is on crutches because both his heels are shattered.

Abdullahman, an illegal immigrant, hurt his feet by jumping from a window three meters high, when employees from the Immigration Office of Ministry of Justice stormed the furniture factory he was working on April 24. He visited the hospital after hearing from a friend that the foreigners-only hospital treats foreign laborers for free.

Besides Abdullahman, there were some 20 foreign laborers waiting to be examined in the hallway of the hospital.

The foreigners-only hospital was a ray of hope for foreign laborers like Abdullahman, but after two years of service, it is on the verge of closing down.

The hospital made do with funds from charity, but the donations have been thinning lately.

There are no examination fees, treatment fees, hospital fees, and even food at this hospital, which receives about 200 patients per day, is free. It costs from 50 to 60 million won for medicine and labor costs alone. Donations reach only about 3.0 million won a month. This hospital already has 300 million won in deficits.

The few doctors, who visit every evening to offer free treatment, and the volunteers from Yollin Dental Society and Korea Intern Resident Association, are a big help.

Pastor Kim Hae-sung (45) from the “Home of foreign laborers,” who works as the chief director of this facility, says, “The hospital was able to operate because of the people who pitched in. I do not know how much longer it will survive. I am very worried because without the doctors, many foreign laborers will go through hardships.”

Pastor Kim decided to open the hospital two years ago after observing small injuries like nail punctures and untreated colds spiral into major diseases. He says, “To my knowledge, after the hospital was established, nobody died from a cold.”

The hospital, which has treated some 36,000 foreign laborers and overseas Chinese, will celebrate its second anniversary on July 22.

(Foreigners-only Hospital: 02-863-9966; Donations Account: 848601-04-043129; Account Holder: Global Sharing Charity)