04/07/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM
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The Yao Phu Association, 100 years of education and Gospel for the Montagnards

by JB. VU
Education and mission characterise the activities of the association’s members. Their goal is to improve living conditions for the country’s ethnic minorities.

Kon Tum (AsiaNews) – The members of the  Yao Phu (Love for the Poor) Association, founded by Fr Alexandre de Rhodes on 27 April 1630 in northern Vietnam and 31 July 1643 in southern Vietnam, have dedicated themselves for a hundred years to the education and the evangelisation of children among ethnic minorities like the Jôrai, Bahnar and Xôdang who live in the high plateau of Vietnam.

One of the schools that trained many Yao  Phu members is that of Kuenot. Established in 1908 it has educated and organised missionary activities for the plateau’s ethnic minorities. Pastoral activity was allowed and blessed by then bishop, Mgr D. Grangeon.

Yao Phu members learn and teach the Bible for themselves, their families and people and help the material and spiritual development of these ethnic groups. This is important for the unity and co-operation among parishes in view of promoting friendship between the Kinh (the largest Vietnamese ethnic group) and ethnic minorities.

Through co-operation the lives of ethnic minorities can improve. Indeed minority schools aim at improving the lives of families and villages.

Yao Phu members  bring the Good Word carrying out missionary activities. Inspired by the dictum—“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mt, 28:19), they seek to promote ethnic minority education. Hence they have organised training courses to become missionaries, capable of understanding new situations and intuitively work with minority communities.

“I have worked with the community for 15 years,” said Trung. “Even though our village’s economic development remains low we have solidarity and faith in God. Our people are religious and trust in the love of Jesus. I like working here,” he added. “We respect these people and they are simple and friendly towards us. Members of these ethnic groups truly believe in God and trust the Church.”

In looking back over the past 100 years, it is possible to see how the Yao Phu Association did a lot of good things. Its members have worked hard and brought help to these communities, whatever blow history may have sent their way.

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