SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, November 27, 2020 – The ‘social distancing’ quarantine guidelines due to COVID-19 have limited activities that many people can meet. Although the overall participation rate of volunteer work decreased amid the situation where people were cut off from each other, citizens actively participated in activities to overcome the damage caused by disasters such as COVID-19, storm and flood.
According to 1365’s statistics, the number of volunteers nationwide decreased by about 65.3% compared to the previous year. However, citizens’ participation in volunteer work to overcome COVID-19 exceeded 1.19 million people nationwide (as of September 30), and the participation rate in volunteer work in disaster and emergency services increased by 1,127.8% year-on-year, which is much higher than that in other areas.
Citizens who participated in the “Overcome COVID-19 Project”, which was run by the Seoul Volunteer Center, said, “We learned that when people are connected together and understand each other’s difficulties, rather than surviving alone in an era when disasters became common, the power to overcome disasters increases.”
A family member who participated in the non-face-to-face relief camp in Dongjak-gu said, “I participated because I thought it would help my child, but it rather gave me a chance to look back on my neighbors and difficult shops around me.”
A citizen who participated in the disaster school in the village said, “It was good that online learning opportunities for volunteer work did not stop, and it was very encouraging to know that there were people around to think and act together in the process of finding ways to overcome COVD-19 based on what I learned.”
The “Overcome COVID-19 Project” consists of three parts; 1) non-face-to-face relief camp, 2)the disaster school in the village, 3) the video of “Citizens’ Power to Overcome COVID-19”. The project was an opportunity for citizens to share their power and knowledge to overcome disasters together.
Non-face-to-face relief camp to overcome COVID-19
The relief camp for disaster which has been learning to survive with neighbors in disaster situations since 2018 was also held online in nine autonomous districts as non-face-to-face ways.
The non-face-to-face camp consists of taking care of individuals and family members amid various problems caused by COVID-19 and daily activities together with neighbors and neighborhoods (delivering letters and gifts to neighbors who are uncomfortable with floor noise, valuable consumption of small business owners, and cheering for deliverymen).
‘The disaster school in the village’ for a safe community of happiness
The disaster school in the village has become a starting point for learning together the issues of disaster and safety that have entered deep into life, creating new relationships in the region and creating the power for volunteer work.
The school which consists of learning various information surrounding disasters and related fields, and exploring personal and community solutions, conducted five online curricula and workshops for a total of six (disasters, infections, psychology, environment, human rights, and resilience).
A message to citizens through the video of “Citizens’ Power to Overcome COVID-19”
In a video clip in collaboration with a new media channel, medical support activities and lunch boxes for local study rooms to help Daegu where had a large scale of confirmed cases and witnesses in Asan who experienced the acceptance process of Korean residents of Wuhan delivered a message that “we all wanted to help others in difficult situations, and it is necessary to show our strength as a connected entity.”
The Seoul Volunteer Center plans to continue to develop the power of citizens to overcome disasters and connect with each other through daily volunteer work, as well as actual volunteer work to recover damage and victims from disaster situations.
Kim Eui-wook, the head of the Seoul Volunteer Center, said, “Everyone has experience of shrinking or disconnection due to COVID-19. However, in times of crisis, it is important to empathize with each other and not forget that we are connected to each other.”