SOUTH SUDAN: Olympic gold medalist Yuna Kim supported Salesian programs in the South Sudan in 2012
(MissionNewswire) South Korean 0lympic gold medalist Yuna Kim (who lit the torch during the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea), is a devout Catholic. In 2012, Kim donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Salesians of Don Bosco to help support missionary brothers in South Sudan and to establish Catholic schools throughout the war-torn country, according to an article on EWTN, the Global Catholic Network.
Kim meet with Salesian brothers in Seoul to personally deliver the gift. According to the article, at the time Kim told Korean press that while visiting Africa in 2011 she “felt the need to help out children there,” and wanted “to offer what little support I can” to those in Africa.
South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world with 55 percent of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. The country gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, but is facing an ongoing civil war that started in December 2013, and has resulted in a dire humanitarian crisis. Responding to the ongoing civil strife is nothing new to Salesian missionaries in the country. They have been continuing their educational and social development programs in communities across the country while also responding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Salesian missionaries across South Sudan provide education and social development services for poor youth and their families. One Salesian center, Don Bosco Gumbo, includes a Salesian parish, primary and secondary school, and youth center. The organization offers education and social development services to youth and their families living in Morobo. For some, the education offered at Don Bosco Gumbo’s primary and secondary school is the only opportunity to gain an education and the skills necessary for future employment.
Salesian missionaries have also been working in Tonj, a town in the northwest region of South Sudan, for several years. Their focus has been on providing education and social development services for poor youth through the operation of primary and secondary schools and youth centers. In addition, the missionaries operate several medical clinics, including a leprosy clinic, as well as a hospital.
“Donors like Yuna Kim make a marked difference for Salesian programs around the globe and ensure Salesian missionaries can continue providing essential education and social development services to poor youth and their families,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
Kim won gold in the 2010 Vancouver Games with a record-breaking score. According to the article, Kim converted to the Catholic faith with her mother in 2008, after they were introduced to local nuns and Catholic organizations by Kim’s personal physician—also a Catholic—who was treating her for knee injuries.
Since then, Kim has also been active using her position as an opportunity for volunteering and donating funds to Catholic hospitals, universities and other charitable organizations, as well as working alongside the Catholic bishops in Korea as a spokeswoman for Catholic charities in Seoul. Kim is now retired from competitive skating but has served as an ambassador for the 2018 Winter Olympics in her home country of Korea.