Tim Peters knows that the ton of grain he buys and sends to North Korea each month won’t feed many of the starving people there.
Peters said Pyongyang officials often stop aid workers from getting food to where it’s needed. That angers him.
"Millions of people could be dying," he said. "I can’t sit by and not help just because there’s a chance that some of the food will be diverted."
So Peters has started a grassroots push, the Ton-a-Month Club, to help the country’s relief agencies trying to get food to the hungry. His aim is to get members to buy one ton of food each month to send to the North.
Peters takes $200 a month from his family budget to help. With each shipment of grain, "I also send a prayer so it will fall into the right hands," he said.
He said his club has only a handful of members, but they manage to send four tons of food to North Korea each month. "We’re just scratching the surface, but even a little bit can go a long way," he said.
He added that he hopes the Ton-a-Month Club’s effort will encourage others to help.
The Buddhist Sharing Movement, based in Seoul, said in a report that since August 1995, the famine has killed about three million North Koreans.
Peters said his efforts are not a political statement. "I just felt a personal responsibility to see if I could alleviate some of the suffering. There are children, elderly and handicapped people dying on the vine up there," he said. "We must do something to help them."
[Excerpts of article by Louis Arana, Stars and Stripes Seoul Bureau]