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`Boy-Adult` Helps Care for Disabled Brothers

Posted September. 12, 2008 03:59,   


“I don’t feel lonely because I have my brothers.”

Lee Myeong-je is a 12-year-old boy living in Ulsan, South Gyeongsang Province. He is often called a "mature child" since he has a big heart rarely found at his age.

His elder brother has the intelligence of a six-month-old baby and his younger brother also has a severe mental disability.

Lee`s mother broke up with her husband when Myeong-je was very young and raised her sons by herself.

Since she has to watch her two mentally disabled sons all day, she cannot afford to work. The government subsidy of about 600,000 won (539 U.S. dollars) a month is the lifeline of her family.

Each day is a daunting struggle for her, but she finds hope and relief from Myeong-je, who often laughs and has innocent eyes. He is a regular child who likes entertainers and sometimes does mischievous things, but acts like a caretaker to his brothers when their mother isn’t around.

Five years ago, his mother had to rush her youngest son to the hospital and leave her oldest son at home. She said she felt incredibly tense because of her eldest son.

Upon returning home, she found her eldest son asleep in bed with Myeong-je dozing off beside him. When his brother fell ill, Myeong-je took care of him and carried him to the bathroom and bathed him.

His mother tearfully said, “I always feel thankful and sorry to Myeong-je, who never complains about sacrificing and caring for his two mentally disabled brothers.”

The traditional Chuseok holidays are just around the corner, but her family has no plans yet. Of course, she cannot go anywhere alone because of her two disabled sons.

“Myeong-je has never whined or asked me to buy something," she said. "My small wish in this Chuseok season is to take him somewhere to have him fun but…” She could not finish her sentence.

Choi Min-ji, child welfare manager for Korea Food For the Hungry International, an organization which supports Myeong-je’s family, said, “I hope Myeong-je’s family that is so full of caring and love for each other has a wonderful holiday.”