A Queenstown 10-year-old has made it his mission to help an international charity smuggle oppressed North Koreans to safety.
Over the past year, Remarkables Primary student Henry Small has become fascinated and appalled over their plight under the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un.
He’s latterly learnt about a non-profit, Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), that smuggles, at no cost, people over the border into China, then beyond that to freedom in South Korea, Thailand or the United States.
“I thought I might try and make a difference,” says Henry, who contacted the charity in the US.
After getting its blessing, he got permission from the local Countdown manager to run a stall outside the supermarket, then late last month, with the help of friend, Eva Romer, raised $256 in three-and-a-half hours.
Thanks to his dad, Simon, that money was transferred to the charity that night – all within 10 days of getting its say-so.
Henry’s now asked LiNK if he can become its New Zealand representative, and promised he’ll deliver “lots of money”.
Simon says he’s flabbergasted at what his son’s achieved, and without any guidance from his parents.
“It’s great for kids to be inspired to make a difference – if you’ve got something that takes your passion, why not go for it?”
To those who’ve queried whether someone so young will stick at it, Simon uses the example of Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, who started when she was 15 and has made waves globally.
Henry says he’d like to extend his fundraising through Otago, and then possibly NZ-wide.
Within a year he hopes to raise enough for LiNK to successfully smuggle one North Korean, which costs about $US3000.
He explains that the mission’s quite fraught as the only way to smuggle someone is via China, as the border with South Korea is heavily militarised.
However, China offers a bounty for any smuggler found, and they’re then sent back and imprisoned.
Asked what he’d like, Henry says he hopes Kim Jong Un dies “in the next wee while”.
“Since he killed his half-brother and his uncle, there’s barely anyone to take his place except for his kids, who will be too young, so that society would collapse.”