Once crumbled and cracked, the stairs leading up to the “baby box” at the Jusarang Community Church in Seoul, South Korea, can now be considered a “stairway to hope.” This is thanks to recent repairs made to the cement stairway as the result of funding from the World Forgotten Children Foundation (WFCF), which also included a very special anonymous donation received during WFCF’s annual “Month of Giving”.
The Problem and Solution
The “baby box”, a temperature-controlled chamber built into the wall of the church serves as a safe place for mothers or fathers to leave newborns or infants they are unable to care for. The cement stairs leading up to the “baby box” had become increasingly dangerous, cracking and crumbling, making it very challenging for mothers or fathers already faced with making a very difficult decision to easily access it in a safe manner, especially with a newborn or infant in tow and very often in the dark of night.
The construction of the stairs began on November 2nd, 2018 and carried through until November 6th, 2018. Metal braces were put into place to improve the foundation for the stairs, wooden planks were carefully secured, and the siding received a fresh coat of paint.
The “baby box” was first introduced by Pastor Lee Jong-rak in 2010 after hearing reports of babies being abandoned in open air or in public restrooms, where they risked dying of hypothermia. The box was designed to act as a “dropbox” so that the mothers or fathers of unwanted newborns and infants have an alternative to leaving them in dangerous conditions. The identity of the parents can remain anonymous and when leaving the newborn or infant, they have the option of stating the child’s name, date of birth, and any vaccinations they may have received.
Over the past several years, WFCF has funded other projects for the church such as a 15-passenger van that serves as a means of transportation when the infants and children in the church’s care need to be taken out for activities and/or medical treatments.
A Word From Pastor Lee
Pastor Lee has extended his warmest thanks to WFCF, mentioning that, “The WFCF’s contribution has remade old and dangerous cement stairs. These will now be safe stairs for single mothers who are forced to make difficult decisions. We'll meet single mothers trying to leave in a hurry and have safe counseling. We will give peace and hope to all single mothers who pass these stairs. We sincerely appreciate the donation from WFCF. God bless your organization.”
A Safe Haven for Babies
The church building is currently serving as a care facility for unwed mothers and babies, and the “baby box” continues to remain operational and heavily utilized. Due to international adoption restrictions and because South Korea is a country with little tradition of adoption, as many families want to preserve family bloodlines, on average more than 200 babies are left at the center each year. The shelter looks after the new arrivals for a few days until they are moved to orphanages to await new families.
A documentary about the “baby box” was released in 2015, titled “The Drop Box”, detailing the work of Pastor Lee and the Jusarang Community Church.