Saigon Church launches scholarships and free courses for poor children
by Thanh Thuy
For several years the Catholics of Vietnam have organized schools, remedial classes and funds to support those who cannot afford a state education. The Lớp Học Tình Thương school host this year 31 children aged 6 to 15 years. Caritas, the dioceses and parishes donate money each year, bicycles and wheelchairs for disabled children.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Giving education to children who cannot afford access to state structures. This is the purpose of the Lớp Học Tình Thương school, founded in the cathedral church of the Hai Phong diocese, Ho Chi Minh City, which this year opened its doors on September 5 for the new school year.

Thanks to the collaboration of Fr. Joseph Nguyen Van Thông, the pastor, and Đinh Tiên Hoàng primary school, a class for 31 children, aged 6 to 15 years has opened for another academic year. The first day of school was held in a festive atmosphere for parents and children, in the presence of Caritas director Fr. J. B. Vu Van Kien, Nguyen Hue primary teacher Đinh Tiên Hoàng, and representatives of local Hong Bang government.

Fr. J. B. Vu Van Kien wanted to give a gift to each child, as an encouragement at school. The priest told AsiaNews: "We can say we learned everything from the Vietnamese bishops' Pastoral Letter of 1980, the message of Benedict XVI in 2009 and from the teachings of Pope Francis, all of which marked the milestones of pastoral direction of the Church Vietnam. We Vietnamese Catholics - continues Fr. Kien -  serve the poor, helping the unfortunate and disadvantaged children, contributing to the educational sector of society”.

Since 1987 the Vietnamese Church has helped millions of children go to school, thus preventing illiteracy and petty crime. Sister Loan, the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Chợ Quán, told AsiaNews: "Last year many dioceses, congregations, parishes contributed to the national education system. Poor children are ignored by society. The government - the sister continues - has allowed us to work with kindergartens, to organize free classes, literature courses and work with selected groups of children living in difficult circumstances. All of these projects have been successful".

According to data of some Catholics involved in social work, "in the past years the Đà Nẵng diocese contributed to the Promotion Fund of the Church's educational for one billion đồng (about 40 thousand EUR); Phi Loc Parish, in the province of Nghệ An, donated 50 bicycles to poor children to allow them to go to school; the cathedral of the archdiocese of Hà Nội gave 500 wheelchairs for disabled children; some parishes of Hậu Giang (Mekong Delta) have provided 1,050 scholarships (15 to $ 25) and many gifts to children in elementary school. "  

In view of the 2015-2016academic year, Caritas Sài Gòn  supported about 6 thousand students from other provinces to allow them to travel to Ho Chi Minh City to take the exams for admission to the university colleges.