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Vietnamese Catholics get creative to help Covid-19 victims

Parish campaigns bring succor as well as essentials to those affected by the latest wave of the contagion

Father Joachim Le Hau Han of Vinh Hoa Parish has noticed that residents in a street isolated due to Covid-19 are feeling a growing sense of alarm even though his parish has given them basic food several times. The street is in his parish with 3,500 members based in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam.

After wondering what he could do to console those quarantined people, Father Han discussed his plans with local authorities.

On July 6, accompanied by a doctor, the 52-year-old priest in full protective gear paid an hour-long unexpected visit to local families.

Following health authorities’ measures against the coronavirus, he stopped in front of each house, giving sound advice and encouragement as well as gifts.

“I come to visit you. Please stay indoors,” he told family members as he blessed them.

Catholic families warmly greeted him and put their arms around their chests while receiving his blessings. The priest reminded them to call parish council members if they need help.

We are deeply moved by the priest and volunteers who walk with us and offer us nutritious food that helps strengthen us to overcome the hard times

Father Han sympathized with migrant workers who live in small hostels, asking the parish council to provide rice donated by Catholic businesses to them, especially followers of other faiths.

The priest has offered food to paupers affected by the pandemic on the 13th day of each month since last year. Local benefactors appreciate his work and make generous donations to the poor.

John Baptist Le Van Luan, who is in the quarantined street, said his life was worsened and in a state of disorder during the quarantine period.

“We are deeply moved by the priest and volunteers who walk with us and offer us nutritious food that helps strengthen us to overcome the hard times,” he said.

Thu Duc Parish will daily provide 200 individual portions for breakfast at the church’s gate for people in need during July. People collect packages of food via pipes from volunteers inside the compound.

Caritas workers at the 142-year-old parish give 41 poor households money and gifts on a monthly basis. Each household receives 250,000 dong (US$11) and rice, fish sauce, sugar, cooking oil and other items costing 300,000 dong.

The parish also receives 5 tonnes of rice and 3 tonnes of sweet potatoes from local Jesuits and Catholic businesspeople to aid people in need.

Volunteers from Tan Chi Linh Parish deliver rice and money to lottery ticket sellers, used item collectors, workers and those rendered jobless by the pandemic.

They also call on their relatives abroad to make donations and provide for families in a difficult situation. Each family is given 500,000 dong and basic food costing 220,000 dong.

Catholics from Hoa Hung Parish buy vegetables from farmers in Da Lat city, 300 kilometers away, and work with local authorities to supply people in quarantined areas.

Some Catholic traders plan to collect agricultural produce from farmers and provide them free of charge or at reduced prices for parishes and communities who serve free meals to people in need.

On July 1, Father Joseph Ngo Si Dinh, director of Caritas Vietnam, launched the Giving Love to One Another Program, which aims to supply food to poor people in Ho Chi Minh City during the pandemic, promoting solidarity and cooperation among people from all walks of life, and raising St. Mother Teresa’s message: “If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.”

Local media reported that many people were heavily fined for leaving their homes without necessary reasons

Father Dinh said the program, which will be carried out during July, will offer tokens to people who can use them to buy food and medicine at shops and pharmacies. Traditional markets have been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dominican priest said Caritas Vietnam will deliver 2,000 tokens, each with a face value of 100,000 dong, on Fridays. The program’s cost is covered by Caritas Vietnam’s emergency fund and donations from benefactors.

Father Joseph Vi Huu said many people have launched initiatives to ease the hunger and misery of Covid-19 victims, so there is still light in the dark and people can enjoy human love and God’s love in their daily life.

However, he said it is not enough and called on people to “wonder what they have done and will do more for those who are suffering misery.”

Ho Chi Minh City imposed stricter curbs on public movement to deal with a more stubborn wave of infections for 15 days starting on July 9. People have to stay home and can only go out for food, medicine and funerals; restaurants and inessential services are closed; and people have to work from home.

Local media reported that many people were heavily fined for leaving their homes without necessary reasons.

Ho Chi Minh City has reported the highest number of cases — 9,895 — since the fourth wave of the contagion broke out on April 27. The more stubborn outbreak has spread to 57 out of 63 cities and provinces.

This article used some information from


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