Christian group expands program for North Korean orphans

(Photo: Reuters / Damir Sagolj)North Korean orphans are seen during a visit from a foreign delegation at their orphanage in the area damaged by recent floods and typhoons in North Hwanghae province September 29, 2011. Picture taken Sept. 29, 2011.

The Christian human rights organization Crossing Borders has announced it will expand its Child Sponsorship Program for North Korean orphans, taking in seven more children.

Established in 2004, the program provides housing, medical care and education for children abandoned on the North Korean-Chinese border.

Tens of thousands of people have escaped the famine and oppression of North Korea – usually to China, and many of them women.

But many North Korean women are sold into sex slavery once they get to China, often for the equivalent of several hundred U.S. dollars.

"We started seeing a population of children who were born as a result of the rampant sex trade that was happening in the region," said a member of Crossing Borders in an email. He asked to be called "Tom" for security reasons.

This border-region sex trade, according to Tom, is the result of China's one-child policy, introduced in 1979 to help the country control its resources and resource consumption.

Yet, today, the policy has created a shortage of Chinese women and a demand for Korean wives – wives that can be purchased from traffickers at the North Korean-Chinese border.

But these forced families don't often stay together. If the women are not sought out and deported by the Chinese police, they flee their husbands.

"The result of this has been children – tens of thousands of them – without protection and capable parents to look after them," Tom said.

Hundreds of children have gone through Crossing Borders program, which has three houses for the purpose. About seven to nine children live in a house with a male and female caretaker.

If children are able to stay with family members, they can receive partial care, which includes educations costs, food and the coverage of emergency expenses.

Tom said the reason is simple:

"Jesus came down from heaven, lived in this fallen world and suffered horribly to save us. We must strive to do the same."

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