Organization raises funds to help North Korean refugees

Ariana Guerra

Liberty in North Korea, or LiNK, an on-campus humanitarian organization, held an awareness event at Gregory Plaza on Friday to raise funds for North Korean refugees.

According to Hamaila Qureshi, nutrition senior and the organization’s president, LiNK seeks to raise awareness about the living conditions of refugees from North Korea.

“We want to focus on what the people are going through,” Qureshi said. “We do a lot of fundraising to rescue refugees hiding in China because China doesn’t recognize them as economic migrants.”

Qureshi said LiNK is an international organization that will take refugees to undisclosed shelters in places such as North America or South Korea, depending on where the refugees want to move.

“We saved a mom, Haejung, and her daughter Su,” Qureshi said. “They are currently residing in South Korea. One of our members, [a UT alum], actually goes to South Korea and keeps up with her and Su. It’s really nice how we get to stay in touch with them.”

The organization is currently raising funds for its ninth refugee. According to Qureshi, it takes around $3,000 to rescue a refugee.

“Right now, we’ve made $1,800,” Qureshi said. “On campus, we do have a lot of people who are interested. We raise about $1,000 for each event, so it does make an impact.”

The event Friday focuses on Jangmadang, the North Korean black market. To educate the students about conditions for the people in North Korea, the organization set up a mock black market.

Lizzy Barbaree, unspecified business freshman and LiNK member, said the group’s original aim was just to raise awareness about the conditions in North Korea, but, with the items they sell, they can also save lives.

“We are selling notebooks, bracelets, lip balm and key chains,” Barbaree said. “A lot of stuff is actually handmade, and we also designed the T-shirts.”

Amanda Wong, Biology sophomore, purchased a food product called “Choco Pie” because she believes in the organization’s cause.

“I read the news and know what’s going on in North Korea,” Wong said. “[North Korea] stopped giving Choco Pie, and South Korea sent over a lot of Choco Pie in retaliation. I think it’s wrong for them to not allow them to have Choco Pie; that food gives them a sense of hope.”