Eugene Bell Foundation to aid more anti-TB sanatoriums in North
The Eugene Bell Foundation is a humanitarian organization that has a long history of aid to the North. Founded in 1995, at the will of Stephen Linton, the delegation is allowed to visit twice a year.
To combat the scourge of tuberculosis that is on the rise in North Korea in comparison to the rest of the world, the Kim Jong-un regime has given permission to the Eugene Bell Foundation to aid four more sanatoriums in the country.
The total number of sanatoriums aided by the group now stands at 12. The Eugene Bell Foundation is a humanitarian organization that has a long history of aid to the North. Founded in 1995, at the will of Stephen Linton, the delegation is allowed to visit some areas of North Korea twice a year. The delivery of medicines and medical equipment to eradicate tuberculosis is the purpose of these visits.
In a rare sign of openness, the Pyongyang government gave the delegation a week longer than the two that are usually granted; also on the last trip the group was larger than usual.
Father Gerard Hammond, the Regional Superior of the Maryknoll missionaries, explained: "The government is more aware of the problem and is making some important concessions."
The country has about 22 million inhabitants, of which half live below the poverty line. Father Hammond explained, “Tuberculosis is propagated by air and affects those who suffer from malnutrition or general organic weakness. We are trying to do everything possible to stop the contagion, and in this our group is proactive. We do not hide our identity, requests for visas are honest and in the delegation of this last trip there were a total of five priests".
He has worked for 20 years with North Korea and has made more than 50 trips to the country, "We cover half of the west, from the city of Shinuiju in the north to Kaesong in the south."
Father Hammond this year obtained South Korean citizenship, a rare honour for a Westerner, in view of his humanitarian and Catholic commitment.
With the support of the Polish Embassy in Pyongyang, Father Hammond was able to celebrate Mass in the capital of the North: "This year, more than 70 were present, a huge and really unexpected number. Many have agreed to sign the attendance sheet, which was a change from the past; it means that they are not afraid to identify themselves, and have perhaps a greater degree of freedom."