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South Korean nuns come to the aid of refugees

Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Korea help refugees earn an income on their own
A street cleaner walks past pedestrians on a pavement in Seoul on Nov. 14, 2023. According to Korean law, applicants who have been denied a visa are required to visit an immigration office every six months to confirm the extension of their stay.

A street cleaner walks past pedestrians on a pavement in Seoul on Nov. 14, 2023. According to Korean law, applicants who have been denied a visa are required to visit an immigration office every six months to confirm the extension of their stay. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 25, 2024 11:58 AM GMT
Updated: March 26, 2024 04:18 AM GMT

A wax candle production house operated by Catholic nuns in South Korea has become a source of income for refugees, says a report.

Refugees working at the Good Samaritan House operated by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament have expressed their pride in earning an income on their own, the Catholic Peace Broadcasting Corporation of Korea (CPBC) reported on March 23.

"I feel humbled to be a candle maker for Catholics and to be a part of this process," said Christine, a refugee from Uganda.

The workshop in Uijeongbu-dong helps refugees produce handmade candles and soap with natural beeswax sourced from Jirisan Mountain located in the Jirisan National Park, said Sister Kim Jin-hee.

"We bring the beeswax directly from the Jirisan Mountain, so it's almost all natural. In addition, we use natural soy wax, not paraffin, so it has a natural aroma," said Kim.

The proceeds from the sales of the candles and soaps fund the refugees’ salaries, scholarships for refugee youth, and childcare for refugee children, CPBC reported.

Kim lauded the spirit of sharing that the refugees have shown by caring for others in need.

"I used to think that we were the Good Samaritans, but I feel that the migrants and refugees here, who help other refugees through labor together, are becoming the Good Samaritans,” Kim said.

The Good Samaritan House which began its operations in February 2020 has been serving the refugees who have difficulty obtaining work permits and jobs, the Catholic Times reported.

According to South Korean law, applicants who have been denied a visa are to visit an immigration office every six months to confirm the extension of their stay in the country.

These refugees are also not entitled to the cost-of-living support and employment permissions that are given to people who have submitted their first refugee application.

They are also denied access to the immigration and international resident support centers in the country.

As of December 2021, foreign nationals made up approximately 3.8 percent of Korea's population, totaling around 1.96 million residents, according to a report published by the National Assembly Research Service, the Korea Times reported.

Statistics Korea predicts the number to rise to 3.23 million, or 6.4 percent of the population, by 2040, the Korea Times reported.

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