Haiphong (AsiaNews) – Catholic priests and Buddhist monks have set up a joint Committee for Charity and Humanity in Hai Phong, a city about 100 kilometres south of Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. Their goal is to work together in a project to prevent AIDS and fight the HIV/AIDS infection. The first case of the disease was recorded in the city in 1993. Since then, 9,508 have contracted the illness with 3,072 dying from it. Currently, 5,421 people are in the terminal phase of the disease.
Mgr Joseph Nguyen Van Thien, bishop of Hai Phong, Fr J.B. Vu Van Kien, director of the local chapter of Caritas, many priests, nuns, lay Catholics as well as Buddhists from the Chua Ve Pagoda, are in or cooperating with the committee.
“I am very happy about such cooperation,” said Bonze Thich Tam Chinh. “This is the first time I met my Catholic friends. In the old days, Catholics and Buddhists did not always see eye to eye; now we can work hand in hand to help people.”
Le Van Nha, an official with Hai Phong People’s (municipal) Committee, welcomed the initiative. He also expressed gratitude to the Nordic Assistance to Viet Nam (NAV), a Norway-based Christian NGO, for its contribution to this project, whose purpose to help adults and children living with AIDS and their families.
The Hai Phong Diocese was founded in 1849. It includes the city of Hai Phong itself, Hai Duong and a section of Hung Yen province. It is home to about 120,000 Catholics out of a population of more than 4.5 million people.
At present, fewer AIDS cases have been recorded in Hai Phong than in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Son La and Dien Bien Phu.