On evenings of Thursdays, the warm and fuzzy feeling of welcome can be spotted in the corner of a busy alleyway of Bucheon. The joyful ambiance of the Green Frog Food Truck enlivens the minds of lonely teenagers wandering the streets.
Most the Green Frog Food Truck (GFFT) visitors are teenagers and young adults, ranging from 13 to 22 years old, who feel they are mistreated and are not welcome in their homes, usually due to an unstable family environment. They rather stay outside for as long more possible as being at home, so they wander the streets long after midnight. What is even more disturbing is the surrounding society. Stereotypically, “a threat to society”, or “a Juvenile delinquent” are the ways people call the street teenagers, without realizing how difficult circumstances are for them. For the street young girls and boys, the Green Frog Food Truck members provide an area to help them as best they can.
The Green Frog Food Truck (GFFT) is a community service providing late-night meals for teenagers in the area of Bucheon every Thursday evening from 6 to 11 P.M. The local supporters bring snacks and drinks to provide enough food for all visitors. The street girls and boys are having a good time at the GFFT over the dinners chatting with the GFFT service members. Fun activities such as playing Ukulele and singing along to the strummed chords are additional fun factors not to be missed.
The head of this service activity, Jung-ah Lee (49), commented on what she has been doing so far: “I have encountered many opportunities to greet a variety of teenagers because I was once a teacher. I was inspired to start this activity after meeting a student who did not have a home and a welcoming family due to the tragic situations. I found the reality of teenagers who live outside of homes. People regard the endangered teenagers with the conventional conclusion that the teenagers tend to commit stealing or bullying others. However, those teenagers in needs are not different from the ordinary teenagers around us.”
Jung-ah Lee started this service five years ago, back in 2011. Since then, she has never missed the Thursday. No matter what Thursday it has been - holidays like Christmas, rainy days, or even snowy days - she had gone out to GFFT where the teenagers are waiting for the food truck. With her warm mind, the kids’ smiles were a big source of her happiness and a great achievement.
The GFFT service team’s biggest hardship is wrestling against the other people’s misunderstanding. The GFFT site needed to move from place to place due to neighbors’ request to move out their residential areas. The neighbors’ worrisome was what if the GFFT is inviting potential bullies for their kids in their front yards.
Recently the GFFT service team found a new shelter inside a building with comfortable surrounding and enough electricity. Moving the GFFT service site into a building means a huge change as they have desperately sought a safer shelter. However, the GFFT team faces with a woe how to pay monthly rents. To keep the indoor facility, the GFFT team needs more supports from donors.
Though it is quite isolated and difficult to find, teenagers constantly visit every week to enjoy the warm receptions. The Green Frog Food Truck is still evolving and doing their best to help the teenagers with love.
Source: "A Place for Teenagers to Refill Their Bowls and Hopes: Green Frog Food Truck.” Interview by Grace Lim. 28 July 2016
Grace Jiyoung Lim
Branksome Hall Asia
Grace Jiyoung Lim firstname.lastname@example.org
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