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Korean nuns sell cakes to support children in Syria, Turkey

About 850,000 children remain displaced due to earthquake in the Middle Eastern nations, aid agencies say

Children from a local school buying freshly baked pastries from nuns at the Salesian Education and Spirituality Center at Singil-dong of Seoul as part of a fundraising campaign for children in earthquake-hit Turkey and Syria

Children from a local school enjoy freshly baked pastries from nuns at the Salesian Education and Spirituality Center at Singil-dong of Seoul as part of a fundraising campaign for children in earthquake-hit Turkey and Syria. (Photo: Catholic Times of Korea)

Published: March 21, 2023 10:11 AM GMT

Updated: March 22, 2023 04:57 AM GMT

Salesian nuns in the South Korean capital Seoul have started selling traditional fish-shaped cakes on the street as part of a fundraising campaign for children in earthquake-hit Turkey and Syria.

The Salesian Education and Spirituality Center at Singil-dong of Seoul launched the sales of taiyaki, a Japanese fish-shaped pastry with red bean filling, at the beginning of March. In Korea, the popular street food is locally known as bungeoppang (carp and bread).

The nuns sell taiyaki twice a week and it is to be continued throughout the month.

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The proceeds from sales will be delivered to a community of Salesian nuns in Syria to be used for children affected by the devastating quake in the Middle Eastern countries.

As the nuns set up taiyaki machine in front of the center on March 6, many children from a local school rushed to buy freshly baked pastries.

“Wow! This time, a mini taiyaki came out!” some children cheered.

Some students from middle and high schools bought taiyaki worth 1,000 won (US$0.77) but paid 10,000 won (US$7.65) from their pocket money as they were aware of the fundraising campaign, said Sister Maria Kim Young-hee, director of the center.

Sister Kim said the taiyaki project became widely popular, so the place became overcrowded and all cakes were sold out before closing time.

As the nuns took turns baking and selling taiyaki, parents of children and teenagers who participated in various programs run by the center also rolled up their sleeves to volunteer. 

Kim Min-ji, 42, a parent who volunteered said that she will join once again to assist the nuns as she finds good meaning in the service.

Sister Kim thanked people for supporting the taiyaki store.

"Thank you to everyone who has shared love with our taiyaki store, which means you sympathize with people who are suffering, especially the young children," she said.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit central and southern Turkey and northern and western Syria on Feb. 6.

One of the deadliest quakes in history left an estimated 56,000 dead, injured more than 125,000 people, displaced 2.4 million, and affected as many as 24 million people, aid groups reported.

About 850,000 children remain displaced in Turkey and Syria since the quake, according to United Nations Children’s Agency, UNICEF. Even before the earthquake hit, about 6.5 million children needed humanitarian assistance due to ongoing conflict.

This report is brought to you in partnership with the Catholic Times of Korea.

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