07/24/2012, 00.00
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Poor, sick and migrants: the work of Catholics (and non) of Ba Ria Caritas

by J.B. Vu
The southeastern province is characterized by a thriving tourism industry and rich deposits of oil and natural gas. It attracts a strong migration from the rest of the country. Tens of thousands of people helped by the Catholic institution, without distinction of race or creed professed.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Helping tens of thousands of people, including orphans, disabled, poor, migrant workers and those afflicted by HIV, without discrimination of class, ethnicity or creed. This is the objective of Caritas of the Diocese of Ba Ria for the years 2012 - 2015.  The area on the southeastern coastal province of Vietnam, characterized by vast areas of water and islands, is a strategic zone for the national economy, with its oil and gas fields, together with the flourishing tourism industry, which attracts heavy immigration from other areas of the country. It is divided internally into six districts, nine major cities and 47 municipalities, with Vung Tau provincial capital. The Catholic organization has launched a series of initiatives with a particular emphasis on  formation, to better meet the needs of the population in the spirit of "union and communion" with "people and other religions."

Mr. Phong, secretary of the diocesan Caritas, told AsiaNews that the "next operational step", planned between 2012 and 2015, will focus on support for "15,258 children orphaned or disabled, 47 thousand poor families Catholic and non Catholic, 30 thousand laborers and migrant workers from other provinces. " In addition to this, the activist continues, "the care of 3,519 HIV-positive and AIDS patients" as well as the elderly and underprivileged children.

To achieve these goals, Caritas recently organized a series of training courses in various parishes, focusing on human resources, development of knowledge and skills in charity work and the missionary task of proclaiming the word of God, the diocese organized a course for 190 parish leaders on the theme: "The spirituality of Caritas and practical knowledge in social work."

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Nguyen Van Khai, Caritas director and secretary of the diocesan provincial Justice and Peace committee, said that "to cope with the daily struggles of people, we decided to organize small to medium scale operations," aimed at ethnic minorities, the poor and elderly "to bring to them the love of Jesus." He clarifies: "we do not distinguish between Catholics and followers of other religions." He stresses the importance of the spirit of "union and communion" with a final appeal to the protection of the environment through initiatives that protect "the lands and waters" of the region.

The diocese of Ba Ria was erected June 2, 2008, and boasts a population of just over one million people, Catholics are little more than 258 thousand, for a total of 22.8%. Among other religions there is a large Buddhist community (21,66%) and smaller groups of Protestants (0.41%), local animists (Cao Đài with 0.99%) and other faiths with about 4% of the total. The main ethnic group is made up of the Vietnamese, 97.53%,  among minorities are Khmer (0.23%), Chinese (1.01%), Châu-Ro (0.76%) and Tày (0, 14%).


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