Re: Building something out of nothing
Freedom Factory is a very small company, of which I am a shareholder.
Yesterday we had our annual shareholder meeting.
Freedom Factory is allowing us to "incubate" TNKR until we can stand on our two own feet--or at least crawl on our four hands and feet. (Consumer Rights Watch is in the same position).
I owe special thanks to FF CEO 김정호. He is a "true believer" in the cause of freedom, so he is allowing both projects to grow out of FF. That's even though Freedom Factory is a small start up with the CEO, staff and supporters wondering how we are going to achieve our dreams with such a tight budget.
So when I say I am so thankful to the volunteers and donors of TNKR, it isn't just lip service. Volunteers--along with Freedom Factory, the Atlas Network, donors--are helping us to create something out of nothing, helping North Korean refugees find their own way and tell their own stories.
Like the FF CEO, I also don't receive a salary from Freedom Factory--because I am a shareholder, that means that I have given more money to Freedom Factory than it has given to me. But the staffers, supporters and shareholders have provided me with emotional support, to the point of cheerleading, and also have reached into their empty pockets when I did need paid assistants in the past.
Some people ask me why I call it the "Teach North Korean Refugees PROJECT," and not a program.
The reason is that I do hope to grow it into something bigger, that it is the start of an organization. That's why I am so thankful to the Atlas Network for making me a Fellow.
I was touched yesterday when several other shareholders came to me, letting me know how much they admire the work we have done so far. Of course, they know me, because of the original 39 founders, I am the only non-Korean. But I can feel it when they tell me, as they did yesterday, how much they admire what I do. I'm sure they are also "true believers" who don't ever expect to make money from the FF project, but hope that it can do its part to increase freedom in the world.
Today is Sunday, I will be at the office meeting with a couple of volunteers who are interested in learning about TNKR's Track 2. A few days ago, I was saying that I am engaged in projects that don't require me to be at the office, and that is true. And yet, I have probably worked for 34 days in a row without a break...
2021 update: Freedom Factory did not make it. In August 2016, it shut down after a three year run.
TNKR did grow into an organization, and we recently changed our name to Freedom Speakers International (FSI). We would not have made it without Freedom Factory giving us space to breathe in our early days.
When people say that South Koreans don't care about North Koreans, I can't agree or disagree completely. I do know that FSI would not have survived without support from South Koreans in our early days and could not have expanded now without support from South Koreans.