Father Vincenzo BORDO, who is called by the name Kim Ha-Jong by the Koreans, was born and raised in Italy, but is now helping the needy in the faraway land of Korea. Since 1992, two years after he came to Korea, he has provided pastoral care for the urban poor in a shantytown in Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do Province. In 1993, he established “Anna’s House”, an indoor soup kitchen for dinner meals, and the first of its kind in Korea. Anna’s House provides warm support for the needy and for the homeless, and functions as a shelter for runaway teenagers as well.
With the outbreak of coronavirus, Fr. Vincenzo is at a crossroads, whether to shut down the soup kitchen or continue it as usual. This is how he explained the latest situation on his Facebook page.
Alarmed and concerned by the COVID-19 VIRUS, many friends asked me about the situation here in Korea. Since Saturday, February 22, things have plunged terrifyingly. Several messages arrived from the Administration and other groups, requesting us (or should I say pressuring us) to close the soup kitchen for the common good.
We are supposed to have a meeting with the Mayor to understand the situation and see possible solutions. It is easy to close gyms… without sport you can live. It is easy to forbid concerts… without music life goes on. Schools and universities can be closed for a period of time… without having scruples of knowledge. You can lock churches, so much so you can pray at home… but can you close down a canteen that serves 550 meals a day for the most needy, especially when, for 70% of them, that is the only meal they can afford to eat? Of course, without good and nutritious food, they cannot survive in this difficult situation anyway. It is a very tricky decision for us to take at this moment.
Yesterday I spent the sleepless night trying to figure out what we can do and how to do it. I ask for your prayers. It is not fair, and we cannot abandon and turn our back on these poor brothers and sisters in times of greatest need.