Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) January 07, 2013
The US Congress recently passed the “North Korean Child Welfare Act of 2012,” a monumental bill that instructs the State Department to devise a comprehensive strategy to help protect stateless North Korean orphans in China and other countries by reuniting them with their families or facilitating adoption by US citizens. It also demands that the secretary designate a representative to regularly brief Congress on the US government’s effort to protect North Korean orphans that are currently in hiding. The bill was originally passed by the House of Representatives in September 2012, but the Senate made some amendments, requiring the House to vote on the revised version. The Senate approved the bill on Dec. 28 and a full session of the House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill on Jan. 1. The measure is currently awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature.
The passing of this bill was a life-long dream of Sang Man (Sam) Han, founder of the Han-Schneider International Children’s Foundation (HSICF), who passed away last June after nearly a decade-long battle with cancer. Since 2010, HSICF has been working closely with the Korean American Coalition (KAC) and other community leaders to build support for the bill. Junior Han-Schneider was established in 2010 by a local group of volunteer high school students who wanted to become involved in the political process. Collectively, they obtained more than 10,000 signatures and several hundred co-sponsor letters in support of the bill which were hand-delivered by Sam Han to Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Sen. Samuel Brownback (R-Kan.), the bill was originally introduced in 2010 under the name of “North Korean Refugee Adoption Act of 2010,” where it received 38 co-sponsors but stalled in committee. It was reintroduced in 2011 by Royce and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).
An estimated 20,000 children have escaped North Korea and are living as refugees in countries like China, Laos and Vietnam. Rep. Ed Royce explains, “Tens of thousands – mostly women – flee to China, seeking just a modicum of freedom. For many, it is a last resort; it is a final chance to avoid starvation and unspeakable oppression. Sadly, many don’t survive the ordeal, leaving behind children.”
The lack of official paperwork and fear of being caught and sent back to North Korea make living in these foreign countries especially harsh on these children. The lucky ones are forced to live in the shadows, emerging only to beg for help or scrounge for scraps of food, while others are unfortunately sold into child labor or the sex trade. Royce described the passing of the bill as an “important step in helping some of the world’s most endangered children.”
“It is a historic bill that will have a major impact on thousands of vulnerable children if it becomes law,” said Arthur Han, HSICF’s Executive Director and son of the late Sam Han. “We really couldn’t have done it without the help of KAC, Jr. Han-Schneider and all the other volunteers whose hard work and dedication paid off. I know my father is looking down upon from heaven with much joy and comfort.”
About Han-Schneider International Children’s Foundation:
Han-Schneider International Children’s Foundation (HSICF), a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization, provides basic needs to help improve the health and well-being of orphans around the world. The foundation’s purpose is to realize the vision of its late founder, Sang Man (Sam) Han, once an impoverished orphan in Korea, which was to establish the necessary infrastructure that will enable an ongoing supply of food, medicine and clothing to save the lives of defenseless children in some of the most impoverished nations, including Cambodia, Tanzania, and North Korea. HSICF hopes to continue expanding its work – the sponsoring and maintenance of centers that provide marginalized children the opportunity for safety, good health, affection, and most significantly, the precious commodity of hope – to other various countries in need. For more information, visit http://www.han-schneider.org or follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HSICF.