By the year 2017, Catholic societies and communities under the Vietnam Catholic Church ran 56 sponsoring centers registered with state authorities for taking cares of the elderly, orphans, street children, poor patients and HIV/AIDS victims, out of the total of 113 social centers established by faith-based organizations in the whole country.
Mai Tam House of Hope in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc District is currently taking care of 90 orphans infected by HIV virus, as well as providing support to other 300 children used to be cared at the Catholic center and now returning their home or communities. The Catholic center of Mai Tam is currently operated by Priest John Phương Đình Toại and other priests from the Order of the Ministers of the Infirm (Camillians).
The order of St. John the Baptist in Dong Nai province has proactively engaged in taking care of disadvantaged patients, irrespective of religious background. It currently offers medical charities in three provinces of Dong Nai, Lam Dong and Quang Nam with clinics for treatments using traditional medicines. The order’s establishment for medical charities in Dong Nai currently has 200 beds for accommodating patients while receiving health examinations and treatments in the center. In addition, the Catholic order has also worked with Xuan Hoa Charity Clinic in training basic skills for taking care of patients and collaborated with the Caritas board in each diocese in training skills for self-care, community healthcare and prevention of diseases.
In addition, nuns from the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the Order of St. Vincent have paid regular visits to leprosy hospitals for tending patients in provinces of Hai Duong (in Chi Linh district), Quang Ninh (Quang Yen district), Lam Dong (Di Linh district), Binh Dinh (Quy Hoa district), etc.
Regarding education, Catholic institutions and communities have been providing preschool education at around 1,500 kindergartens, and vocational training at 11 out of 12 vocational colleges and centers in Vietnam.
The Salesians of Don Bosco or the Salesian Society in Vietnam has been active in vocational training for disadvantaged children, especially street children and children with disabilities. At present, the society are operating five vocational training in provinces of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Lam Dong, Vinh Long, Ha Tinh and Ho Chi Minh City, with the total of 1,925 enrollees for the school year 2018-2019.
In addition, Xuan Hiep Parish under the Salesians of Don Bosco in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc district has opened classes from the 1st grade to the 9th grade for rejected children and those dropped out of school since 2009. For the last ten years, these classes have provided basic education and vocational training at the 9th grade for 600 children, including 60 children with HIF infection. Each month, the parish spends several hundreds of VND million for hiring teachers and serving class activities, as the public education office in the district only provides the financial support of 20% of the running cost.
Given the emergence of children with autism in the modern society, the Saint Paul Congregation in Ho Chi Minh City has sent nuns to training courses for caring children with autism in Vietnam and abroad. In 2009, the congregation established Truc Linh Center for teaching and caring children with autism. Since then, 534 children from 18 provinces and cities across the country have come for autism examination at the center, and 437 children have stayed in the center for different periods of professional care. So far, 305 children have left the center when reaching the age of six years old for further public education or stay at special schools or at home.
Hoa Binh Xuan Loc Vocational College located in Dong Nai Province’s Trang Bom District is the first Catholic school established in 2017 in the country for providing vocational training. Upgrading from Hoa Binh Xuan Loc Vocational Intermediate School founded in 2011, the school has enrolled and trained high skilled labors for industrial parks in Dong Nai province in particular and neighboring regions in general, and created jobs for many Catholics and non-Catholics in the area. It has also boosted links with Japan’s Taiken Institute and many enterprises in the country to improve skills for lecturers and students. The college currently has 2,677 enrollees.
With a comprehensive approach, the college has provided both theoretical studies and practices for students in order to meet practical requirements by businesses and entrepreneurs; the school teachers have also equipped students with life skills as well. In line with a Caritas spirit for serving the poor, the school management board has targeted poor students, the disabled and those under special difficulties to help them with employment opportunities and community integration
Catholicism in Vietnam has also been active in social charities and there’ve been 635 social sponsoring establishments run by Catholic institutions and communities. The committee for social actions (Caritas) has been set up under the Vietnam Catholic Bishops’ Conference and its branches established in all Catholic dioceses in Vietnam.
As reported, the diocese Caritas boards in Vietnam in 2018 sent material supports of necessities to 10,400 disadvantaged people, including poor ethnic minorities, the disabled and the elderly, helped building and upgrading 260 houses for the poor, and offered free health examinations and medical treatments for disadvantaged children and poor patients.
Also in 2018, the Caritas board of all 26 Catholic dioceses in Vietnam organized 263 workshops on medical care and treatments of HIV/AIDS for patients as well as collaborators and volunteers from Caritas boards.
In implementing charitable programs for people with disabilities in 2018, Catholic dioceses of Long Xuyen, Ha Noi, Hue, Da Lat, Hai Phong, Thai Binh and Thanh Hoa presented over 430 wheelchairs, 17 pairs of crutches, 20 assistive canes and six standing training frames for the elderly and people with disabilities in localities.