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Older Koreans given help

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 11:18 20/11/2012
Silver School
SIMON SMITH

ENHANCING LIVES: Makeup artist Francisca Lee highlights Helena Lee’s eyebrows at the new Silver School for elderly Koreans. Watching are Yoomi Park, Choonok Kim, Susan Hwang and Induck Kim.

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Being away from their home country can be tough for elderly Koreans living in New Zealand.

They feel isolated because of cultural differences, a language barrier and a lack of information in Korean about what is going on around them.

But a new trust aims to improve their lives.

The Korean Positive Ageing Charitable Trust (KPACT) officially launched on November 8 and wants to be a bridge between Korean elders and society, founder Yongrahn Park says.

It plans to make information available in Korean to allow the seniors to access social services, facilities and events.

"They are unaware of what is available and or how to access it," she says.

"For older Koreans this causes even more feelings of isolation and exclusion."

As well, KPACT plans to give advice, promote good health and organise volunteers to keep in contact with seniors.

It has also started a Silver School at the Highland Park Community House every Friday from 2pm till 4pm where senior citizens do a variety of activities from learning English to crafts and exercise.

Mrs Park says Koreans over the age of 60 enjoy life in New Zealand but they miss the support of Korean society which understands the shared hardship of their lives.

South Korea was devastated by imperial Japanese occupation and the following Korean War which ended in an armistice in 1953.

Since then the country has lived under constant threat of violence from North Korea.

The rise from a country with no infrastructure to a developed modern society has taken its toll with people working tirelessly so their children could live better lives.

"Without their sacrifice our country would not have developed like it has," Mrs Park says.

"They deserve to live happily wherever they live."

Before starting the trust Mrs Park was a co-ordinator of the Korean project at Age Concern Counties Manukau in 2011.

The project helped identify the depth of the problems facing older Koreans and Mrs Park says it helped her to network and gain the skills and experience needed to launch the new trust.

Before the Age Concern project there was no place for elderly Koreans to inquire about social services outside of church networks, she says. About 70 people were at the trust's launch last Thursday.

Email yongrahn.p@ koreanpositiveageing.org.nz or call 272 7040 to contact the trust.

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- East And Bays Courier

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