Ria arrived in the UK in 2008 on her own, with no family and unsure of her next steps in life. She only knew a few words of English, and had no financial security.
The education Ria received in North Korea was focused only 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. Understandably, this meant that finding work in the UK was very difficult for Ria.
Many years on, when we met Ria through an outreach session, she was a parent of two children, the single earner in her household, and working in a local supermarket. She was struggling to feed her family, and keep a roof over their heads.
Ria had heard good things about Connect: North Korea from other people in the community, so she visited us to see if we could help her improve her life.
We provided her with the support, encouragement, tools and training she needed to develop her confidence – and shift her focus from just surviving day to day towards planning for her future. Ambitions and future plans are something that many North Korean people struggle with as their lives contain so much uncertainty. But this is a key element in empowering them to maximise their potential.
We matched Ria with a volunteer English tutor who provided one-on-one support and we further helped her with childcare costs while she studied. Ria has now almost finished training to become an acupuncturist, and she’s working on her computer skills so she can run her own business and help her children with their schoolwork.
With the consistent support of Connect: North Korea, 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?