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May 18, 2005

Pusan workers give more than $1,200 for hearing aid implant for orphan

From: Stars and Stripes - Washington,D.C.,USA - May 18, 2005

By Franklin Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Wednesday, May 18, 2005

PYONGTAEK, South Korea — Employees of the U.S. Army's Pusan Storage Facility have raised more than $1,200 toward helping a South Korean boy get high-tech hearing aid implant surgery, officials said Monday.

That will go toward the $15,000 still needed for 5-year-old Jang Bong-sok to get the hearing aid through an operation known as a cochlear implant.

He's already had a successful cochlear implant in his right ear, on Jan. 17 at Pusan's Dong Hwa University Hospital, but he needs one for his left ear. Doctors have said they believe he's been deaf since birth.

"You're talking about a little boy that's never had hearing and I think it was very emotional for people, and they want to be supportive," PSF deputy commander John Batchelor said Monday.

Korean and American employees at PSF raised $1,223, mainly through selling tickets to a raffle they held Friday during the facility's annual organizational day. Among raffle prizes were two round-trip tickets to Cheju Island, South Korea, and a round-trip ticket to Fukuoka, Japan.

Last fall, PSF members raised $1,100 toward the first implant. Some 90 percent of its employees are South Korean.

Members of Pusan's Camp Hialeah community also raised money last year, which brought to $5,500 the total donated by the U.S. military community toward January's $30,000 operation.

The U.S. military community's efforts have been part of a wider fund drive started by Isaac's House, a home in Pusan for abused and abandoned children; Bong-sok has lived there since age 3. Heading the drive has been Ju Yang-suk, also known as Sister Catarina, one of three lay Catholics who run the home.

"We'll invite her along with some of the children and then, at that time, we'll present the check and also provide a little cookout," Batchelor said. The date still is to be determined, he said.

Bong-sok's plight struck a chord with PSF's Korean employees, said Kim In-suk, a PSF supply system analyst, who bought a raffle ticket.

"He has a hearing problem," Kim said. "He doesn't have family. That's why I tried to help him … everybody wants to help him … because he doesn't have family. He doesn't have any money.

"If he can hear, he can have a new life, right?" she asked. "So we try to help him."

Those wanting more information can contact Anthony Gray, Catholic coordinator at Camp Hialeah, at DSN 763-7771.

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