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'The lighthouse of our neighborhood': Seoul city creates heat shelters for impoverished residents Updated: 2021-07-25 10:37:14 KST

The summer heat can feel brutal, especially for people living below the poverty line.
The only shelter for some of Seoul's poorest residents are rooms that barely stretch three square meters.

"After a long hot day outside, many living below the poverty line have to come back to a room like this one.
I've been in here for just a few minutes and it's already feeling pretty suffocating because of the heat.
It almost feels like a sauna, even with the fan on."

One of the residents said that it feels hotter inside than outside.
Community service centers and elderly shelters often served as a refuge from the heat, but Covid-19 has closed most of them down.

"These days, I only sleep in my room. There are fans but no air conditioning. So I just fan myself, and clean myself with a wet cloth, and then forget the heat when I fall asleep."

"We can rest and sleep in the rooms at night but not during the day. We hope to find shelter at the elderly centers but they're closed due to Covid. We don't have anywhere to go. If we turn the fan on, we only get hot air."

Seoul city is trying to provide heat shelters in impoverished neighborhoods.

"About 320 residents in our neighborhood have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Those who haven't been vaccinated have to take a Covid test once a week and make sure they're negative before they can use the shelter."

As well as shade and air conditioning, these shelters provide cold water, ice, shower rooms, and a place to sleep for whoever needs it.
A worker at the shelter, who also lives in Donui-dong's impoverished neighborhood, says he can see up close the wonders the place provides.

"The service center is like a lighthouse of this place. Residents can do their laundry there and wash and even get help with food and clothes. I see that's really cheering up the residents. I learn a lot from working there and now I'm thinking about doing social work."

These centers do more than just provide shelter from the heat.
They're also a source of new hope in life.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News
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