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      Refugees in China Get a Helping Hand

      What is it that makes a person reach out to someone they've never met before to lend a helping hand? What is it that makes a person aid others despite the presence of peril?

      There are, of course, a number of answers - charity, goodwill, common humanity to name a few - and it's a combination of these mixed with a sense of brotherhood that is leading groups of mostly South Koreans to northeastern China to help North Korean refugees.

      While it may be a Korean issue for the most part, there are others involved. One of them is Tim Peters, an American missionary playing a key role in getting the word out about what is going on and getting aid and support to those that need it most.

      Tim Peters' first contact with North Korea came in 1996 when news of the famine north of the border led him to start up a project called the Ton-a-Month Club, which, as the name implies, involved collecting enough donations to buy at least a ton of grain to be sent to the North every month.

      As he explains it, the transportation channels at the time were very limited and in 1998 Peters headed to the Chinese border area to see if there was a more effective way to get the aid to North Korea.

      During these fact-finding trips he came face-to-face with the grim reality of the plight of North Korean refugees hiding out in China. It changed his life and the direction of his work.

      From that point on the focus of Helping Hands Korea was firmly placed on refugees. While the Ton-a-Month Club continues, Peters says the greater amount of his efforts is spent helping the underground railroad for getting North Koreans out of China.

      [Excerpt of article by Andrew Carroll, Korea Times]