Fri, Jul 22, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Mexican students join charity group in Taipei

‘DELICIOUS SWEET POTATOES’:A group of athletes who chose to help a single mother sell roast potatoes rather than sightsee say they now know one phrase in Chinese

Staff writer, with CNA

A group of students from Mexico who took part in the International Children’s Games last week pose for a group photograph next to a stall selling roasted sweet potatoes in Taipei on Sunday.

Photo: CNA

A group of Mexican students that participated in last week’s 2016 International Children’s Games went out of its way to help a street vendor sell her goods on the group’s last day in Taiwan.

Twenty-nine students, aged between 12 and 15, from the Acuatica Nelson Vargas swimming school were in Taiwan from Monday last week to Sunday to take part in the event held in New Taipei City.

Before their departure, the students opted not to tour Taipei as was originally planned and instead joined the Genesis Social Welfare Foundation to help single mothers sell roasted sweet potatoes on the city’s streets.

The students called out “delicious sweet potatoes” in Chinese to attract customers to a sweet potato stall on Zhongxiao E Road and cheered each time someone stopped to make a purchase.

They helped 47-year-old single mother Lai Kuei-fang (賴貴芳) sell 33 bags of roasted sweet potatoes in less than one hour, earning her NT$1,650.

The foundation helps single mothers make money by providing them with traditional ovens to roast sweet potatoes for sale.

“I am so moved. [The sweet potatoes] would not have sold so fast on a normal day,” Lai said.

She said the students not only helped her sell sweet potatoes, but they also bought all her potatoes then donated them back to her so she could sell them again.

She insisted that they eat some, Lai said.

Lai’s younger sister, Lai Mei-chun (賴美君), said “it was great encouragement for single mothers like my sister.”

“Who says travelers should only seek out entertainment and go shopping when they visit a place?” she said.

Fernanda Diez, who headed the student group, said the children decided to change their travel plans after learning about the possibility of doing charity work through a travel agency.

“We were very surprised by how nice Taiwanese are,” Diez said. “We wanted to give back.”

Alvaro Baillet, 14, said Sunday’s event was a deviation from their original plans, “but I am pleased, because it was for a good cause.”

“I feel good,” he said. “I think we are really helping in a good and direct way. We are not just donating money.”

However, he said they still can only speak one phrase in Chinese: “Delicious sweet potatoes.”

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