Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thanh Hóa February 16, 2011

We left Bắc Ninh after lunch and headed a few hours south for Thanh Hóa. When we arrived two Sisters Adorers of the Holy Cross of Thanh Hóa met us and took us to a small neighborhood convent where a few sisters live who care for disabled children and adults in the neighborhood. Their goal is to build a facility to provide for children whose parents are unable to care for them adequately. They are in need of $100,000 to accomplish this goal, a number that seems inexpensive for construction by U.S. standards, but is way out of reach here. But the need is great.

The neighborhood in which the sisters live has an inordinate number of children who are born with severe disabilities. The sisters believe it is due to Agent Orange. This city was bombed severely during the war and, though the town is rebuilt and commerce takes place, the devastation from the war in the lives of these families is heartbreaking.

One of the sisters told me that each impoverished household with a disabled family member only receives about $15 from the government. Again, that may go further here, but is still far too little to meet the basic needs. Comparatively, a bowl of phơ (Vietnamese noodle soup with meat) costs about $6 in the USA, and about $1 here). I just bought an SD card reader (multi-card reader) for $1.50 that would have cost me about $20 in the USA. That gives some idea that the government subsidy is proportionately worth about $100/month in the USA of buying value to care for a child with a severe disabilities. That is just a drop in the bucket.

Here, there just aren’t the resources to which families can turn to find help to care for their children or adult family members with severe disabilities. The sisters do what they can by providing a little day care and visiting the neighborhood families in need.

The sisters had gathered many of those whom they regularly serve at their convent so that we could meet them and pass out gifts of blankets, clothing, rice, oil and candy. After visiting two more families in the neighborhood, who were physically unable to come to the convent, we went to the sister’s motherhouse where we were welcomed affectionately, fed dinner, and given rooms for the night. I visited the English class of postulants so that they could hear American English. They usually are taught British English in schools in Vietnam. The young women asked questions and then sang beautifully for me at the end of class. They were VERY enthusiastic.

The next day we rose at 4am for a 5am departure. It reminded me of Luke 4:43ff where Jesus leaves Capernaum one day at daybreak because he has many other towns and villages where he must proclaim the Good News.

Saying farewell to the Sisters of Our Lady of Unity at Bắc Ninh.

Fr. Bình leading a cheer among those who came to the convent to receive gifts. The sisters here serve those from the neighborhood who live with disabilities.

Everyone has a family member or individual who brought them to the convent and care for their daily needs.

There are an inordinate number of children and adults born with disabilities in this neighborhood. The sisters said it is caused by Agent Orange. This city of Thanh Hóa was all but obliterated by American bombing raids during the war.

Huong Nguyen, who works for SARA in Portland, distributing gifts.

Two of the Sisters Adorers of the Holy Cross of Thanh Hóa who live and work at this neighborhood convent.

Kim Dung is very attentive to the family members who make great daily sacrifices for their disabled loved ones.

We visited this man at his home. He received a head injury on the job and has few benefits. He is unable to work anymore. His disabilities are worsening. Recently, he lost his ability to speak. All he could do was sit in his be and look at us, expressionless.

Kim Dung comforting the wife of the man who was disabled in a work related injury.

At the motherhouse of the Sisters Adorers of the Holy Cross of Thanh Hóa SARA has provided for a clinic to offer free and inexpensive healthcare.

This little one-year-old girl was left on the doorstep of the motherhouse when she was a baby. The sisters took her in and are raising her. One sister is her primary caretaker.

No comments:

Post a Comment