* Date : 2016-09-21
Immigrants dying alone in a foreign country
Germany is a country of immigrants. It is home to immigrants from all over the world, including Europe, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Korea began dispatching its nurses and miners to Germany in the 1960s. They made a new start in life there and now their children are carrying on their legacy. Now the first-generation immigrants are now in their senior years. The same applies to the first group of immigrants from other East Asian countries. They spent most of their lives in Germany, where they worked hard to raise their families. Now they are dying alone away from their home countries.
Hospice Dong Ban Ja and its warmhearted people
There is a multicultural hospice in Germany called Dong Ban Ja. It is the only hospice in Germany specifically for immigrants. Eighty percent of immigrants who have dementia forget German and speak only their native language. Volunteers from Dong Ban Ja must be fluent in the language of their patients and have a well-rounded understanding of their cultural background in order to be able to give proper assistance. The volunteers provide consolation to immigrants suffering from illness, and stay by their side when they face death. They also help immigrants find homes and draft their last wills. But above all, their responsibility is to communicate heart to heart.
We are all foreigners!
The hospice Dong Ban Ja is headed by Kim In-seon from Korea. She came to Berlin in 1972 to study nursing science. Now she heads a group of volunteers at her hospice. She, too, went through many hardships in the foreign country. In 2008 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent anti-cancer treatment. She can understand what it must be like for immigrants to have to face death all alone in a foreign land. She has helped more than three thousand immigrants from 12 countries. She stayed by their side when they were dying in order to make them feel less lonely and scared. She continues to help immigrants who don't have a family in Germany, keeping them company and sharing her generosity. What is the meaning of hospice care to this woman with a heart larger than life, and what does death mean to her?