The Catholic Church in South Korea identified the need for support for women and girls who were pregnant, and lacked family support.
In 1979, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd established Mary’s Home as a shelter for pregnant girls and women in need of protection and support. The aim was to set up a wholistic programme to cater for all the needs of the residents.
A Sister is the Director of the programme, with employed lay staff.
Women who are pregnant and single and who are in difficult family situations.
Girls and women who come to Mary’s Home are in distress. They find a welcoming and accepting place. The environment enables them to regain their faith in self, in others and in God.
A range of programmes and services are offered:
Mary's Home offers individual counselling at the admission to Mary's Home and continues with ongoing counselling according to individual needs and also provides group counselling. She is helped to make the choice with regard to the future of the baby whether to send for adoption or to keep the baby and plan her life after leaving Mary’s Home so that she can prepare for it while she is still with the programme.
Topics include gaining self understanding through the MBTI program, art therapy, reading and programs on human development.
While the girls are at Mary’s Home all their medical needs are taken care of. They go for regular check up and for delivery to the hospital.
It is important for the mothers at Mary's Home to build a healthy lifestyle. For this reason, courses are offered on sex education, pre-natal and post-natal care and physical exercise classes for women who are pregnant and after giving birth. Residents are also educated on domestic and sexual violence.
Mary's Home assists the residents who need to continue their basic education. It also offers skill training in computer and cooking in order to get the necessary qualifications for a job. Different hobbies such as quilt art, cross-stitching, paper crafts, and knot craft help the girls to use their free time in a useful and pleasant way.
Birthday celebrations, picnics in the spring and fall, summer camps, concerts are provided as means of relaxation. Important National days and religious feasts are celebrated meaningfully. These celebrations help the women to feel at home.
A monthly newsletter keeps the benefactors interested in Mary’s Home. It also helps to recruit more volunteers. Annual bazaar organized by the Diocesan Social Welfare Association is a venue where the work receives a lot of publicity. A website and Daum Cafe helps young girls in difficulty find Mary’s Home. Many residents use the café to find all the necessary information they want about Mary’s Home before they make the first telephone call.
A Mother who desire to keep her baby is referred to Joseph’s House.
Halfway Houses. There are three furnished apartments to help single mothers who need a place until they can become independent. They may stay in these houses usually up to three years and if not ready, they may remain for a longer period of time. In that time, they save money towards their own housing. They also receive counselling and emotional support.
Other Arrangements. Mary's Home supplies milk powder for the babies. This milk powder is provided by a generous benefactor. Introduction is provided to individual benefactors who desire to sponsor these babies in an on-going basis. This personal interest and help is a big support to the single mothers in many ways.
Since 2005, there has been a big drop in the number of girls and women in Mary’s Home. One of the main reasons is that many new institutions for single mothers have been started in Korea in recent years. For this reason, Sisters and the staff evaluated the validity of this ministry. The final decision was that Mary’s Home is the only place that accommodates girls and women who are refused admission by other institutes. Some of the reasons are: age, personality problems, the need for special medical care, mentally not fit for their institutes and so on. We have to keep our doors open for these persons for they have no where else to find help. We are proud that our lay staff has understood the value of each person.
Since 1982, over 3,500 persons have received help from Mary’s Home.
‘One person is of more value than the whole world’. These words of the foundress of Sisters of the Good Shepherd, St Mary Euphrasia, are the guiding light of the programme.
Joseph’s Home was begun in April, 2003, to help single mothers from Mary’s Home who want to keep their babies but have no place to stay. Later the Government recognized this work and offered full financial help for this programme.
Mothers take care of their own babies for three months until they return to normal health. Then they go for work or get some skill training while their babies are taken care of by the staff. After one to two years they will move to a place of their own arrangement or to another halfway home (a small apartment provided by Mary’s Home).
Daily needs are provided for.
Entertainment and Cultural programmes.
100th day celebration for their babies.
Baby’s 1st birthday celebration.
Vocation training includes:
Pet care, Skin Care, Driver’s license, Computer, Nurse aid, Aroma Therapy, High school Examination.