06/17/2006, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Vietnamese diocese organising social and pastoral activities to combat social ills

by Thanh Thao

Diocesan associations in Ba Ria Vung Tau are organising activities to keep young people away from the temptations of consumerism and materialism. Many of them are unemployed and to beat boredom they drink, take drugs or gamble.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – "In our country young people need spirituality," said the parish priest of Binh Gia, a town in the diocese of Ba Ria Vung Tau in south-eastern Vietnam, one of the most important economic regions of the country. With a congregation of 10,037 members in an area of 17.92 km2, it is the second densest parish in the diocese.

Thanks to the work of groups like the Children of Jesus or Mary Mother associations, young people in the diocese can get involved in helping others, and through prayers and pastoral work can safeguard their faith by keeping consumerism and materialism at arm's length. Many however are overwhelmed by many a social problem.

"I still haven't got a job," one told AsiaNews, "and staying at home is boring. I kill time and forget my problems drinking beer with my friends."

"These kids are without a job, an income, or any encouragement in life," a catechist told AsiaNews. "Many are poor, uneducated and with few chances of success in life. They easily fall prey to drugs and gambling, cock fighting for instance. We try to take care of them and find them something positive to do during their free time such as organising pastoral services and social activities."

"In the past there was a strong sense of peace in our parish," a 19-year-old woman said, "but in the last few years—I don't know why—people started experiencing serious social problems, especially the young and teenagers".

A recent study involving a survey of 550 young people showed that only 32 per cent was satisfied with their current job and were confident about the future. By contrast, 43 per cent said they wanted to get a new job whilst another 25 per cent had no job at all.

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