Donations to this campaign in the past provided rice shipments which I personally brought to North Korea for direct distribution. The Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee, however rejected my request to visit North Korea once again this year, so I have decided to send the funds we have collected directly to Mr. Runar Sorensen of UNICEF in Pyongyang, who is able to monitor the donations. $15,000 were sent to him recently.

They have been designated to support a UNICEF-supervised mushroom growing project at schools and children's nurseries to assure that those who need food the most, to avert malnutrition, benefit from it.

Mushrooms are widely used in the daily diet of North Koreans. As mushrooms grow easily and fast your donations have helped UNICEF to purchase equipment for making mushroom spawns. The sets consist of one ultraviolet lamp, one sterilizer and a voltage regulator. A refrigerator is also provided in order to keep the spawns fresh before being distributed.

The sets, which supply schools and nurseries with spawn, are distributed to different areas throughout the country. Each spawning center is aimed at supplying ten other institutions with spawns. The centers also receive training by UNICEF in the management of both spawn and mushroom production which in turn will be passed through further training at the institutions which receive the spawn.

The ultimate recipients are nurseries, kindergartens, baby homes,orphanages and boarding schools. One baby home in Hyesan city in Ryangang province has been producing mushrooms since March this year.

This home, experienced in mushroom production, has already produced a significant amount of this nutritious vegetable to supplement North Korean children's diet and will be among those receiving a mushroom set from your donations.

A Pyongyang-based UNICEF staff member, Fathia Abdalla, reports to us:

"It has been very interesting to visit their mushroom production room. White-grayish mushrooms sprouting in abundance from their beds ofcrushed maize cobs. Graceful and appetizing they are an important supplement to the children's diet. UNICEF has also distributed different kinds of vegetable seeds to the same institutions. The vegetable gardens visited have all been looking very well tended. Despite of lack of pesticide the institutions have harvested important amounts of vegetables."

"Attached you will find pictures taken at a baby home in Chongjinon the coast.The institution has had good harvests of cabbage, which they make into kimchi to be used during the winter. Surplus spinach has been dried and will be used later.

"In some areas it was observed that edible grass was collected to constitute part of the diet because of the food shortage in the country. This food has avery high fiber content and is difficult to digest for small children.

"Simple greenhouses are used widely - UNICEF has contributed fortified plastic to help erect these. With a well-managed greenhouse, the institutions will beable to prolong the growing season and be able to supplement the diet with green vegetables also in the winter and early spring. This will increase the content of micro nutrients in the children's diet."

Further contributions will henceforth go to this project.

-- Bernard Krisher
Tokyo, October 3, 1998

Click here to view the first set of photos from the project

Click here to view the second set of photos from the project (shows mushroom-growing)