12/13/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Youth emergency. In Ho Chi Minh City, the Church begins from the family

by JB. VU
The majority of the country is now made up of young people. 26% of Vietnamese are under the age of 15. To the thousands of cases of abandonment, exploitation, or solitude, the Church is responding by focusing on the family.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - They represent 54% of the population of Vietnam, and 18 million in Ho Chi Minh City alone: young people under the age of 30, who now make up the majority of the country's inhabitants. 26% of the 87 million Vietnamese are under the age of 15. More than 22 million children, who represent a resource for the future, but also a problem for the country's present. For the Church, they represent a priority.

The statistics of the organizations involved in social activities show that in the capital, there are 7,000 children on the streets, and 22,000 young people suffering from drug addiction. There are 10,000 girls in the sex market. They are brought from Cambodia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China, as workers in the coffee shops or massage parlors. Families that sell their children receive between 6,000 and 12,000 dollars, but often they do not know their true fate.

But it is not only the extreme cases that are worrying. There is another statistic that shows how many children suffer difficult conditions within their own families. The causes are connected to the high number of divorces and separations, but also to the abandonment to which they are left because of economic hardship, which drives their parents to dedicate themselves exclusively to their work, overlooking their children.

Social organizations and charitable institutions of the Catholic Church are working with the population, with the young people, and with the children in poor areas of the city and in the rural areas of the province, to educate them about the value of life and help the young generations rediscover the values on which traditional Vietnamese culture is founded.

The family is the nerve center to which the Catholic Church looks, in order to confront the many cases of suffering that affect young people and children, whether they are abandoned by their parents, reduced to objects, exploited, or overlooked by their families.

Bishop Nguyen Van Nhon, president of the Vietnamese bishops' council, has sent a pastoral letter to all of the Catholics in the country, in which he says: "Generally Vietnamese society is changing vigorously, with positive achievements, but at the time having negative issues, with big loss, among them the most considerable issue is the basic values involving the stability of marriage and family, and respecting participation of family members with each other."

"As Vietnamese," continues the letter by the bishop, "we are proud of the family’s good traditions such as living in peace in family and the society. This is an essential factor to help us sacrifice our life for good cause and talents. But the good traditions are being abraded and lost in oblivion."

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