03/09/2006, 00.00
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Home in Saigon to save the innocent

by Vu Nhi Cong
Catholic organisation helps young women avoid abortions. Now it wants to help HIV-positive patients but lacks money and permits.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – A "small home" to prevent young, unmarried and pregnant women from aborting their babies is what Fr Joseph Dinh Huy Huong, from Duc Tin parish, built in Ho Chi Minh City (ex Saigon). "The home's objective is to help pregnant women. If we do not help them, they will kill their children," Father Joseph said.

For example, the Tu Du Hospital reports some 33,000 abortions per year. And five per cent of those cases involve patients under the age of 18.

Father Joseph's "little home" is a safe haven for 40 children. Here they are cared for and supported by sisters of Mother Teresa's Mission of Charity. Others are cared for in other ways.

The sisters also provide counselling; currently, to 10 pregnant women. "In the last two years, we saved hundreds of innocent children," one of the sisters said.

Father Joseph told AsiaNews that "in the future the Committee on Pastoral and Social action of the archdiocese of Saigon will focus on studying the city's social problems so that we can determine what activities and projects can be provided to meet social needs".

"We want to set up the 'Phuc Sinh Centre', a recovery and social reintegration centre in Ho Chi Minh City's Cu Chi district. It will offer a wide range of services such as counselling, social services, and HIV/AIDS prevention and care". Before this can happen, government regulations must be examined though to find out how social welfare units can be established, Father Joseph said.

The committee will co-ordinate its activities with the archdiocese's cultural centre and set up workshops. It will also offer short term training courses.

Recently, the committee and the Pastoral Centre for HIV-positive people organised information and training sessions for medical staff involved in HIV-ADIS care.

Unfortunately, although the number of people living with HIV-AIDS has reached 40,000, the committee lacks adequate funding and means to fully use its experts, social workers, consultants, doctors, lawyers and volunteers. It does not even have an official head office.

"Even though our parishes have already been involved in some activities of prevention and in some social development projects, we need to get permits and train people.," he explained. "Now our committee must work with local parishes, social groups and non governmental organisations as well as social welfare centres around the city to further develop the Church and society."

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