06/14/2021, 00.00
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Catholic volunteers help the poorest in Ho Chi Minh City amid COVID-19 pandemic

by Ngoc Lan

Catholic groups have mobilised to help the poor with free meals and care. Today, local authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have extended distancing rules for a further two weeks.

Ho Chi Minh (AsiaNews) – In Vietnam the COVID-19 pandemic has affected disproportionately the poor and the homeless. But street vendors, street sweepers, and small merchants have managed to cope with the difficulties of this period thanks to the help of Catholic associations.

Anna Huyền Trang, a local reporter, describes Catholic outreach in Ho Chi Minh City, noting that Father Joseph Lê Quang Uy of the Redemptorist Order, together with some volunteers, prepares meals for the poor of his neighbourhood three days a week.

This goes on elsewhere in the city as well thanks to other volunteers. Ms Nở and her group cook rice for more than 300 needy people living near the Nhiêu Lộc Canal, where a home welcomes the disabled, seniors and the poor.

“For many years we have helped or supported people living in very difficult circumstances. We have provided free meals and care,” said one volunteer. However, “in the last two weeks, the pandemic has spread very quickly, causing everyone to be worried and come under a lot of pressure.”

Soup kitchens comply Health Ministry directives with each table limited to three or five people, no more.

On social media, Father Joseph Lê Quang Uy said that he could not go back to his brothers and sisters in Saigon, but the most to suffer from the situation are “the poor, the lonely elderly, the disabled, workers, street vendors, street people. These people are suffering the most from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Nevertheless, “Charitable activities have been carried out successfully thanks to the participation and support of volunteers,” Father Joseph said. “Some people support us financially. Some have given food and drinking water. In certain districts we manage to serve between 200 and 300 people.”

“May God bless all of you and our small efforts,” the missionary added. “May God bless our brothers and sisters near and far, and the benefactors who have helped us. Most of all, let us pray for the victims of this pandemic.”

Yesterday 293 cases were reported in the whole country, bringing the total number to 10,630.

Today, local authorities in Ho Chi Minh have extended distancing rules for a further two weeks. Non-essential services and businesses will remain closed, while outdoor gatherings are limited to five people or less.

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