“Each day, I try to grow in God’s love and to understand God’s unconditional love. I have received so much love and care in Korea and I will share all that love with the children in Zimbabwe.” Sister Chiyoung Pak, a member of a Buddhist family, became a Roman Catholic at 12 years of age. She studied at the Catholic Catechetical Institute for two years. She became acquainted with the Maryknoll Sisters in Seoul and worked with them for four years, teaching Filipino migrants on the weekends. She entered the Congregation in 1995.
After her formation period and profession of vows, Sister Chiyoung was assigned to Zimbabwe in 1999, where she now works with street boys. Sister Chiyoung also volunteers at St. Charles Lwanga Learning Center, founded by the Jesuits in Zimbabwe, where she helps students with their studies so they can continue in their schooling. Having earned her black belt in Tae Kwan Do in Korea, Sister Chiyoung now teaches this martial art to Zimbabwe’s street children as an aid to their self-esteem and self-discipline.
For more than eight years, Sister Chiyoung has been running a much-needed project for youth in a poor suburb outside of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city. Sister Chiyoung has been interviewed on Korea radio about her ministry, and her work at Norton Youth Center in Zimbabwe has been profiled in the news media.
“Definitely, sharing my life with the Norton children helps me experience God who lives within them,” says Sister Chiyoung. “Through my life with them, my faith is growing stronger and deeper.”
For years, Sister Chiyoung rented part of an elementary school as a place to welcome more than 1,000 kids, many orphans living in extreme poverty who go without regular schooling. Her center had been the focal point for the children’s dreams of an education and a place they could go to get love and give it. In December 2012, Sister Chiyoung got the bad news that the space no longer was available to her kids. She had to find another place to offer her free classes in art, dance, mathematics, and grammar.
“Without the center, the children have no place to get any kind of education,” says Sister Chiyoung. “I can’t forget the disappointed look on their faces when we closed our center. I want to see them look happy again.” Sister Chiyoung is determined to make that wish a reality, seeking help for the eviction at Norton City Hall. After months of contacting city officials, she is looking to rehabilitate an unused patch of land on which a new youth center can rise.
“I have a dream to build a vocational school for the Norton children who are wandering on the streets,” Sister Chiyoung says. “I really want to help them to be able to fulfill their dreams, too.”