International volunteering group PLUR helps people in need
International volunteering group PLUR helps people in need
  • Oh Seo-jin
  • 승인 2012.05.25 17:08
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PLUR volunteers help out in a soup kitchen near Sookmyung Women’s University. Photo by Kwon Eun-bi.

Hands of many different colors gather, but the faces that go with them share a look of strong determination and a sense of duty as volunteers walk into an open kitchen. Washing dishes, cleaning tables, and mopping floors, they create a harmony that crosses national and ethnic barriers.
PLUR, a volunteer group mostly consisting of people from other countries, stands for Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, the primary values the group adheres to. It has four specific missions: To spread peace in Korea, share love, foster unity with the people it meets and serves, and respect one another.
The ultimate goal of PLUR goes beyond merely promoting altruistic ideas. It hopes to create a volunteer movement based on PLUR values. To do so, it maintains strict requirements, such as requiring members to participate in at least three volunteer projects a year.
PLUR was founded by Danny Oh, a Korean-American who spread PLUR values in Korea in 2006. He first shared his ideas with friends and then started the very first project at Flower Village in Gyeong-ju, working in a soup kitchen for an elderly hospital.
“Danny wanted to create an outlet for people to help others without having it be a ‘religious’ organization. He just wanted an open means for everyone to be able to contribute what they could without any sort of agenda,” Paul H. Kim, an event coordinator, said.
PLUR participates in a variety of Seoul-based activities to help the disadvantaged, including the elderly, homeless, and orphans.
“PLUR does not serve for any specific category of people,” said Shaun Rajan, the volunteer activity programmer. “We volunteer wherever we find an opportunity. We volunteer at soup kitchens for homeless men and at orphanages. We also participate in raising funds for other causes, like we did during the Haiti earthquake.”
Current volunteering activities include; helping out at a soup kitchen near Sookmyung Women’s University on Fridays, distributing bags of food to homeless people who sleep or live at Seoul Station on Sundays, and helping at Hyang-Ae Orphanages.
There are more than 1,200 members on PLUR’s Facebook page, with several hundred currently volunteering. Since only about 50 volunteers are needed every week, members take turns. While most are Korea- residing foreigners, Korean nationals are also welcome.
The experience has proved to be valuable for both the volunteers and beneficiaries.
“I had always wanted to do something for others without getting something in return, and PLUR gave me the chance to do just that,” Qi Xiao-ying (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, 4) said.
Other members also speak of their own motivations.
“It is a rare and unique opportunity to interact with a diverse population,” Han A-reum (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, 4) said.
PLUR volunteers’ passion and devotion to its activities impressed volunteering centers, especially the employees in an orphanage in Eumsong.
“Children here greatly anticipate the volunteers’ visit,” said Jo Myo-hang, the volunteer manager at Hyang-Ae Orphanage. “They always come with different activity ideas so that children do not get bored, and also prepare birthday presents for children.”
PLUR aims to spread its influence throughout Korea and continues to recruit volunteers.
“The only qualification you need to join PLUR is the will to help others,” Rajan said. “Anyone with a kind heart and a little spare time can join us.”
PLUR does not have specific plans for the near future but will continue to speak through actions.
“We will always look for opportunities where we can participate and contribute,” Rajan said. “Our three events will remain as our basic work that we will follow all year around.”
For further information, visit PLUR’s official Facebook page, “Volunteer for PLUR!”

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