Han Bi-ya: “I enjoy my work as a relief worker”

Han Bi-ya, a Korean, is better known as a travel books writer and relief worker. She first inspired young people of  the world through her books titled “Daughter of The Wind, Three and A Half Times Around The Globe On Foot.” The four-volume book was published based on her seven-year long travel around the world in 2007. She also wroted four other books thereafter including “Han Bi-ya’s Travelogue of China.”

She has been to 104 countries in the world. Han started her journey in 1992. She decided to circle the globe on her own by foot and rarely relied on cars or other means of transportation. Han visited each country with a determination to experience local cultures and traditions by staying with the locals.

Through her seven adventurous years of journey, she was able to see many of incredible things that have changed her life.

Through her journey, she experienced world’s beauty as well as witnessed its tragedies, poverty and famines. These experiences have led her to devote her life to helping people in needs.

She is still doing what she loves the most, traveling. But now, it is with a cause. A cause to help people, who she says are suffering in the weakest state of their life.

Asked about what motivated her to dedicate her life for others in an interview with The AsiaN Tuesday (July 31), Han replied in a tone full of passion that “Working for people in their suffering makes my heart beat. I enjoy doing good for others and am also delighted to see that the beneficiaries enjoy what I am doing for them. All of us can enjoy it. This is the best job!”

Han worked for World Vision for 9 years before she recently appointed by the United Nations as one of the 18 advisers for UN Central Emergency Response Fund.

This full of life 54 year-old lady shared her story on being caught in a hazardous situation while trying to help refugees in the middle of a war in Somalia. She said the situation was chaotic. While they were trying to provide food, shelter and medical for the refugees, a black code notice was suddenly issued. The war had gotten worst and they had to leave the country immediately.

Han also recalled a story when she led World Vision’s Emergency Relief Team for helping the victims of Tsunami that hit Southeast Asian nations in 2006.

“When I first heard about it, I had no other choice but to fly there directly. I went to Sri Lanka first and then to Indonesia upon being informed that there too were many victims and concerned authorities opened the way for us to enter the country.” Han told The AsiaN.

Han is leaving Korea for South Sudan, the world’s newest country, on August 11 to deliver aids for its people.
She told that Sudan is in the top priority country now. “South Sudan is in an emergency state now. It is a newly independent country having weak government and famine is everywhere,” she went on to say.

After decades of civil war, South Sudan declared its independent in November last year. But the conflict does not over with the independence. Conflict over oil revenue between South Sudan and Sudan has only gotten worse.

Even after UN warned Sudan that “resolve the conflict before August 2, or sanctions being imposed,” the conflict continues. Years of conflict in Sudan have cost millions of Southern and Northern Sudanese life. Han and her team will stay in Sudan for as long as five months.

Han worried that safety is the biggest concern during her work there. While trying to save others life, the team also has to know the ever-changing situation in order to safely travel inside a volatile regions for conducting the relief plan.

Han explained humorously about her work as a relief worker. She said that “I am glad to be able to go to many countries to help people, but people do not want to see me in their country because it means that a natural disaster or conflict occured there.” That is why Han said that, “I used to say to people I worked with before, that I am grateful to work with you but I do not want to see you again,” she said with laughter. She humbly defined her relief work as “somthing not to be proud of. It is just because we live together, not  me or you, but us, so we have to work together,” she said.

“I hope for the world to be free of starving children, where they can go to school and so they can dream of their dreams,” Han told The Asian on her biggest dream. She added that helping each other is the nature of the world and she enjoys her life and work now. And “for sure”, she said, “You will keep seeing me as a relief worker for the next 10 years.”

When she is not busy with working and traveling, Han lives in Seoul and enjoys hiking.

Meidyana Rayana Intern Reporter news@theasian.asia

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