12/22/2015, 00.00
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Ho Chi Minh City: Catholics and Buddhists celebrate Christmas with disabled children

by Thanh Thuy
Caritas is home to over 3 thousand blind, deaf, autistic or mentally disabled children. During Advent it organizes programs with social workers, and non-Christians, to help children celebrate Christmas.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - "I am so happy to be able to celebrate Christmas this year. We will play with other children, cook, have fun and a raffle for Christmas gifts. In addition, we will build the Nativity Scene together. When we return to our homes we will have the welcome gifts" says Huy, a disabled child of 12.

Huy is excited: like many peers, during Advent he was welcomed by Caritas of Ho Chi Minh City. This year, the Church has decided to organize programs and specific activities for less fortunate young people, to help them really celebrate Christmas.

Since 2009, Caritas has built a network through more than 150 parishes to serve the poor and care for children living in special circumstances such as children with disabilities, blind people, who live on the street and in poverty.

Thu Trinh, one of the organizers, says: "During Advent, we have brought together 200 social workers from 53 shelters and clinics. We take care of 3344 children in difficult circumstances, including 230 blind, 460 deaf, 256 mentally disabled, 94 with cerebral palsy, 51 with autism, and about  100 in a wheelchair. "

"In order to do this – the lay woman continues – we have had to devise particular methods to help children participate in Christmas festivities. Through some activities, Caritas wants to support their parents and the adults in educating society to take care of these children. Social workers of Caritas can be Catholic and non-Catholic, but they must really love children. "

Hong is Buddhist and works for Caritas: "I am very happy to be part of these social activities for Christmas. I take care of some girls living in a reception center. They like to create small Nativity Scenes in their rooms. This is truly a joyous occasion for children. And seeing this makes all of the difficulties and obstacles we encounter in helping them to celebrate Christmas worthwhile".

Sister Ánh Sao, a Caritas collaborator says that this Christmas they will also have the contribution of Chi Minh Khoa and Nguyễn Ánh, professors of medicine at the University of Ho Chi Minh City: "They are experts in caring for disabled children. They were joined by some student volunteers who organized games for the children. They divided into small groups and  participated in all the activities. It is wonderful to see a child and a disabled child playing together".

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