Development assistance may not be a term that laymen can easily grasp. A majority of people get on with their lives not knowing what development assistance is and how it affects their daily lives. However, it is not as far as people believe. When we watch a television advertisement featuring a child from an impoverished community in Africa sending a message of help with sad and pitiful eyes, we empathize with them and write a letter of encouragement or make a small donation with goodwill. This is a type of day-to-day development assistance that people would not give a lot of thought. This is how we are actually closer to development assistance than we think.
Celebrating the day when Korea gained membership into the OECD DAC on November 25, 2009
Korea became a formal member of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on November 25, 2009. The membership of the DAC carried a special significance to the country that once was a recipient of foreign aid with crushing poverty. Today, Korea not only took itself off the list of aid recipients but also started to give.
To remember this day of becoming a donor country, KOICA designated November 25 as Development Assistance Day and has held annual ceremony since. Foreign aids that flowed to Korea in the 1960s served as seed money for Korea to lay the foundation for economic takeoff. It helped Korea achieve per capita income of more than USD 20,000.
As a donor country, a portion of the taxes that the Korean government collects is used as a form of official development assistance to put developing countries on a trajectory toward sound social and economic development. KOICA’s efforts to help developing countries get themselves out of the trap of poverty takes a variety of forms. It undertakes grant aid programs in developing countries. It also provides humanitarian aids by engaging in activities that have objectives to save lives, such as the people of the Philippines who were severely affected by the recent storm. This is why people’s recognition and support for the development assistance is important and adds greater value.
The 1st Dream Volunteer Corp launching ceremony was organized
To celebrate the 4th Development Assistance Day, KOICA organized various commemorative ceremonies. At the event, the 1st Dream Volunteer Corp which consists of students from vocational high schools was launched. It was followed by the commissioning of a new public relations ambassador of KOICA and the 8th Korea Overseas Volunteer Award Ceremony. Celebrities, including Park Bo-young, Nichkhun and Narsha who were featured as celebrity volunteers in MBC’s KOICA’s Dream, a television show, joined to make the event all the more meaningful. Wink, a singer, who was commissioned as a new PR ambassador could not make it at the event and her agent received the certificate instead.
Park Bo-young appeared in the MBC’s KOICA’s Dream three times for the Peru program in 2011, El Salvador program in 2012 and Indonesia program in 2013. Nichkhun was featured in the Tanzania program in 2012, and Narsha appeared in the Nepal program in 2012.
A total of eight awards which include the President’s Award, Prime Minister’s Award, Foreign Minister’s Award and KOICA’s Award were prepared for the overseas volunteer award ceremony. The award is given to overseas volunteers who committed their lives to helping others in developing countries. The president of Han Byul (One Star) School Jeong Soon-ja (Miral Welfare Foundation) who committed her life to educating and providing medical services to people in Ethiopia received the President’s Award for her dedication in the country for 20 years.
“Korea is contributing to the international community in its own unique way by capitalizing on the fact that it is the first country in the world to turn itself into a donor from a recipient of aid,” said Kim Young-mok, the president of KOICA. “It is the endeavors of people like overseas volunteers, ODA experts, public relations ambassadors who are here today that made it possible for Korea to gain a membership into the OECD DAC.”