05/17/2006, 00.00
VIETNAM

Catholic youth accompany abandoned children

by Thanh Thao

Catholic youth of Hanoi and Saigon have formed a group that works in the social sector, helping especially children, especially vulnerable to the loss of traditional values and family crises.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – In a country experiencing a crisis in its traditional values, young Catholic volunteers from the parishes of Saigon and the archdiocese of Hanoi are working for social development and wellbeing, especially of children. The youth have set up an organization that prepares activities in rural, underdeveloped areas and helps children. The initiative is open to all.

A youth named Tran told AsiaNews: "Today, Vietnam is too focused on economic growth. Morality and ethical values are in crisis and this undermines the stability of the family. Many children are forced to leave their native places to survive, to go to Ho Chi Minh City or other large cities."

Ngoc Anh is a volunteer who has been working with abandoned children for 10 years. He works in the parish of Cau Kho, in a centre set up by a Dominican priest Jean Houlman. He said most of the 500 children he knows come from the central and northern parts of the country. "Each child has his or her own story to tell about his or her life," said Ngoc Anh, who has visited the families of many abandoned children. "They run away from home for many reasons: some come from broken families or were neglected or ill-treated by their stepfathers or stepmothers, victims of domestic violence."

Hue Tri, A Buddhist sister who works in the social sector added: "I hope the mission we are undertaking we will be recognized as a work for our society." She works in the "House of Compassion" centre that hosts more than 200 neglected children aged under 16 years, and she wants to set up a forum where social workers can share their experiences.

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