Living in God’s family
Article by Stella Rhee,
Province of Northeast Asia.
Madeleine's House was opened in January 2019 by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd in Korea to help victims of prostitution recover their human rights and become healthy members of society.
The name of the House is based on the history of the opening of a refuge for prostitutes, which arose as a response to a challenge to St. John Eudes by Ms. Madeleine Lamy to do something concrete for these people. The following letter has been written by Yumi Lee, a former resident of Madeleine's House. She has obtained her nursing assistant license and became self-reliant on June 5, 2021.
I died on June 11, 2019. And on the afternoon of the next day, June 12, I came to Madeleine's House as a living corpse, literally devastated. Yet, today, two years later, I am born again, and I am standing here in Madeleine's House as a true member of society.
A lot has happened in the past two years: the ruthless self-assault, stress-related binge eating, skin problems, allergies, hair loss, and other forms of bodily self-rejection were beyond my wildest imagination.
The teachers were constantly by my side, showing me care and concern. They always said I was lovely despite my immature behavior, which was not worthy of my age. Thanks to their hard work, I am able to smile as I do today. Here, for the first time in my 48 years of life, I learned about what real family means.
Just like a lion that drops its cub from a cliff to teach it the rules of survival, Eum, one of the teachers, lead me to the brighter side of society through program participation, education, professional certification, and employment. He played the role of my 'father', who walked with me hand in hand as if teaching a baby how to walk, sometimes harshly and sometimes warmly.
Yumi Lee on a visit to the museum with some of her ‘family members’.
Madeleine's House's Director, Agatha, was like my' mother.' She observed everything and accepted everything even when I was struggling or acting silly; sometimes, she even bent the rules for me, showing me that she was unconditionally on my side. She gave me the wisdom to realize my own mistakes.
Yun, one of the other teachers, was like my' older sister' or a dear friend. She comfortably spoke with me as an equal. I remember sometimes arguing, crying, and laughing with her over trivial things.
And, like a baby who lacked everything, in Eunmi, a different teacher again, I found someone very special in my family. She hugged me, comforted me, cried, and struggled with me as I suffered from nightmares night after night. She stayed up for me on many nights and happily watched my growth over the two years. She was by my side unconditionally and served as the only unpaid 'grandmother-babysitter' I've ever known.
The women who arrived after me became my 'younger sisters'; they called me their 'older sister' even though I was unable to live up to this role properly.
This is how I learned what a family is, and I was part of a family here. I spent my childhood here again, and now I am an adult going out into society. I would like to say thank you to my spiritual family, who I found here. Thank you! I love you! Madeleine's House is where I found the light. So, I can now see the beautiful sunset in the sky, the mist rising from the river and the deep blue of the Sea of Japan.
I will repay all my teachers by living proudly as a member of society so that my 'sisters' who come to live here will find in me a sign of hope. This way, the hard work and sacrifice of all the teachers will not be in vain. Even when I leave this place, this Madeleine House will continue to be my home!
I will end by saying that I love you because you have taught me how to love.