08/10/2012, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Caritas microcredit project for the poor and minorities in Đà Lạt

by J.B. Vu
Volunteers provide support to the initiative launched in 2010. The project is aimed at members of ethnic minorities living in rural areas and mountain regions. More than 900 families have been able to "escape poverty." Catholic volunteer says that with God's help it is possible to find the strength to promote such initiatives.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Caritas in Đà Lạt Diocese (Lâm Đồng province, southern Vietnam) launched a microcredit plan in 2010 to help the poor meet their needs and break out of the one dollar poverty line. Most beneficiaries belong to ethnic minorities, living in difficult conditions in small communities without the necessary means to survive.

Since its inception two years ago, the initiative has helped more than 900 families "escape poverty," an internal audit found. In order to reach its goal of growth and development, the Catholic agency encouraged the establishment of volunteer groups serving the poor and the vulnerable of society.

"In the beginning, participants were shy, suffering from an inferiority complex and reticent to join fully the project," one Caritas member said. Now, attitudes have changed and "greater participation" in the agency's activities has become the norm.

Microcredit entails small loans to the poor, especially from ethnic minorities living in rural areas or mountain regions, which can serve as seed money for small businesses, mutual help and entrepreneurship.

Titled 'The poor can help each other out of poverty,' the project aims to help children from poor families go to school, whilst preserving minorities' traditional cultures.

For Đà Lạt Christians, the Caritas project's success in sustainable development is a source of pride.

A Caritas volunteer told AsiaNews that after initial difficulties, "step by step, I learnt watching the work of nuns and other social workers."

"With God's help," he noted, it is possible to find the strength and courage to promote all sorts of initiatives.

"I am just a catalyst," he added, "creating the conditions for others to benefit from the microcredit project."

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