Đoan Nữ parish helping pupils and seniors affected by the pandemic
by Paul Nguyen Hung

Caritas and local priests have undertaken initiatives in favour of the community, including pupils forced into remote learning and lonely COVID-19 patients in hospital. Vietnam’s Health Ministry plans to rev up its vaccination campaign. The parish has provided small gifts for people with few opportunities.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The COVID-19 pandemic has made life much harder for a large section of the Vietnamese population, ranging from youth unable to get an education to the poor, not to mention senior citizens who are increasingly alone.

As needs mount, community leaders in Đoan Nữ parish (Archdiocese of Hanoi), northern Vietnam, along with Caritas have undertaken various outreach initiatives of solidarity, such as providing hot meals, as well as helping in local schools.

Fr Joseph Vũ Đức Phán, the local parish priest, local nuns, and Caritas are providing scholarships for the 2022-2023 school year to some 36 pupils, both Catholic and non-Catholic, living in particularly difficult circumstances.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Catholic leaders said that these gifts may be small but that they are of “great significance” because they encourage learning among those who have fewer resources and opportunities.

Even in this part of ​​Vietnam, COVID-19 has turn people's lives upside down. From April 2021 to 1st February 2022, the Hanoi area reported 134,425 cases and 1,661 deaths.

To limit the spread of the virus, Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long announced that the vaccination campaign for adults and children would be rolled out at a faster pace between 29 January and 28 February.

Health Ministry data about the adult population, updated to 26 January, show that 100 per cent of adults received a first dose, 95.7 per cent got the second dose, but only 22.3 per cent got their booster shot.

Among youth aged 12 to 17 years, 95.2 per cent have had a first dose, while 86 per cent have had the second.

Given the easy transmission of the virus, the Vietnamese Ministry of Education said that elementary school students up to the 6th grade will continue remote learning in the 2022-2023 school year. By contrast, 7th to 12th graders were scheduled to return to in-person learning as of today.

Given the challenges students face at present, the extra hours of study promoted by Đoan Nữ parish for children and teenagers have been of great help, as have many other activities organised in the community.

During recent Lunar New Year celebrations, some 230 seniors gathered in the parish courtyard to take part in a thanksgiving Mass, calling for God's blessing. The festivities marked the start of the Year of the Tiger.

Poor people, children and seniors are among the main beneficiaries of the social activities organised by the parish, which also reached out to lonely patients hospitalised because of to COVID-19, both Catholic and non-Catholic.