Vietnam’s Catholic Church to celebrate upcoming Lunar New Year by helping the poor and orphans

Vietnams’ Catholic Church is planning a number of charity activities for the upcoming Lunar New Year (7 February) to benefit the country’s poorest citizens. In fact, some 18 million people live below the poverty line (less than a dollar a day) in the Southeast Asian nation.

Jan 27, 2016

HANOI: Vietnams’ Catholic Church is planning a number of charity activities for the upcoming Lunar New Year (7 February) to benefit the country’s poorest citizens. In fact, some 18 million people live below the poverty line (less than a dollar a day) in the Southeast Asian nation.

Mgr Joseph Nguy?n V?n Y?n, head of the Committee of Charitable and Social Activities of the Vietnam Bishops’ Council, is leading the way. Following Pope Francis’ indiction of the Year of Mercy, he appealed to all 26 of the country’s dioceses to help orphans living in situations prohibitive.

During the month of January, the bishop made his way from parish to parish in the country’s poorest and remotest rural regions to help, especially children and seniors. His special focus has been in Vô hot and Phúc Châu parishes, Ninh Binh province (south of Hanoi).

In Phú Th? district, Ho Chi Minh City diocese, the local Caritas invited physicians with the Thi?n ??c Association to make the round of parishes bringing medicines to some 400 poor patients, including seniors living alone, orphans and the disabled. In addition to offering free medical examinations, the doctors provided counselling on how to improve local hygiene.

For the past 20 years, a delegation from the Diocese of Phát Di?m (south of Hanoi) has visited the lepers at Trai Phong C?m Th?y on the occasion of Tet, the Lunar New Year. Over the years, the local Caritas along with number religious congregations, male and female, and lay people, has been involved in charitable work.

The diocese of Phan Thi?t, (north of Ho Chi Minh City) helps small groups to save money to give bursaries to poor children. "With these funds, some women have been helped to cope with the difficulties due to unemployment,” said Huynh Thi Chin, a local woman. “Thanks to this help, my family is more stable and I am calmer. We do not raise a lot of money, but what we do raise provides rural families an alternative to loan sharks who can charge up to 20 per cent."

Vietnam has a population of some 90 million people. According to government statistics, 18 million (20 per cent of the population) own 6 per cent of the national wealth and live below the poverty line. Another 18 million own 54 per cent of the wealth and are classified as wealthy. The remaining 60 per cent controls 40 per cent of the nation’s assets.

"The government says that the rich are 20 per cent,” said Dung Pham Chi, PhD in Economics. “In reality, 1 per cent of the population owns 40 per cent of the assets of the nation.”

In his view, the government controls two-thirds of the economy, which performs worse than the private sector. Therefore, it is time to move towards privatisation.

“We have taken steps in that direction, but proposals at the 12th Communist Party Congress (currently underway) follow economic directives adopted in 2013, which are still state-centric."--Asia News

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