Ria worked hard, but she faced too many barriers to overcome them all on her own

Ria arrived in the UK in 2008 on her own, with no family and unsure of her next steps in life. She only had a few words of English, and no financial security.

The education Ria received in North Korea was focused on furthering the Kim regime, but she had learned a little about the UK, studying about Victorian England through the limited books she was allowed to read. This, combined with the language barrier, made finding work in the UK very difficult.

Many years on, when we met Ria through an outreach session, she was a parent of two children, the single earner in her household, working in a local supermarket, struggling to make ends meet, to feed her family, and keep a roof over their heads.

Ria had heard good things about Connect: North Korea from other North Korean people in her community, so she asked us if we could help her to improve her life.

We provided her with the long-term support, encouragement, tools and training she needed to develop her confidence and shift her focus from just surviving day to day to planning long-term for her future. Ambitions and plans are something many North Korean people struggle with, because of their experiences of life under such an oppressive regime, so this is a key element in fully enabling their freedom.

We matched Ria with a volunteer English tutor who provided one-on-one support to improve her English and provided her with a small allowance to support her and her children while she studied. Ria has now almost finished training to become an acupuncturist, and she is working on her computer skills with her one-on-one volunteer tutor – which will help her to run her own business, continue her learning, and support her children with their schoolwork.

With the benefit of the long-term support Connect: North Korea has been able to provide, combined with her own hard work, Ria has developed so many new skills, and grown in so many ways. She is now able to engage confidently with her children’s’ teachers, as well as continuing to grow her knowledge in healthcare.

Ria told us:

“Connect: North Korea helped me in my time of need. Now I want to spend the rest of my life helping others. Not only that, but I’m so proud of my children and happy that I can help them fulfil their dreams because I can understand what is needed from their schools.”

Would you like to help Connect: North Korea to remove barriers for another escaped North Korean person, like Ria, so they can also heal, grow, and live the life they choose?

Donate now

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