Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, 21 July 2021 -- Many places including some Salesian parishes in Ho Chi Minh city have become ‘transit stations of love’ during the COVID-19 outbreak in Ho Chi Minh city in recent weeks.
Starting on 9 July 2021, when a special quarantine order was issued in Ho Chi Minh city, with the support of young migrants and the pastoral council of Don Bosco Xuan Hiep parish, Salesian priests and younger confreres from Rinaldi Theologate community carried drinking water to provide supplies to households. Three large water tanks from 500 to 1,000 liters are transported on a tricycle to the top of the blocked areas. People prepare containers, the brothers will pump water from the tank into the container for them. The confreres also prepared small water containers to send to those who do not have containers. In addition to water support, Don Bosco Xuan Hiep parish also supports people with necessities. Other Salesian parishes in Ho Chi Minh city such as Ben Cat and Ba Thon have been also doing the same for some weeks.
The Salesians in post-novitiate in Da Lat city and K’Long communities (the 2 communities belong to Lam Dong province, the large vegetable-growing area of the country) have contacted a number of vegetable garden owners to collect free vegetables and send them back to Saigon, with the help of young people and other people. Up till now there are more vegetables sent from Da Lat and K’Long, and the Theologate community and Xuan Hiep parish are dividing them up to send to people in need.
The people in the quarantine area are mostly workers. They live in cramped inns. When the neighborhood was blocked, their work and life were greatly affected.
Don Bosco Xuan Hiep and parishes like this are receiving support from many benefactors and becoming a transit station for their generosity and love to those in need.
According to statistics by the Ministry of Health, from April 27 to now, the number of covid 19 infections in Vietnam is 59,165, of which Ho Chi Minh city is the place with the highest rate of covid infection. Over the past 1 week, every day Ho Chi Minh city has more than 1000 to nearly 5000 new infections.
Ho Chi Minh City has implemented a special quarantine order from July 9 and is expected to last for 2 weeks until July 23 to control the spread. Traditional markets are temporarily closed. All gateways to and from Ho Chi Minh city are strictly controlled. Many workers and the poor have no jobs and are in extremely difficult situations. Ho Chi Minh city is now seriously ‘injured’.
But in the midst of those sufferings, there are still many people who are joining hands with the government, health agencies, and trying to fight against the pandemic.
There are many young people, small groups, that do not mind working hard in the middle of the night to distribute food to the homeless and the hungry. There are landlords who are willing to reduce or waive rent for tenants. There are business people who call friends and colleagues and cook for free for the quarantine areas, for the patients, for the medical staff. There are free stalls run by religious sisters in Ho Chi Minh city for everyone. There are Congregations or parishes ready to act as a bridge to distribute food to people regardless of religion. And most of all, it seems that everyone in the country is watching Saigon with love, with shipments full of humanity.
The Religious Office of the Archdiocese of Saigon has sent a letter calling on religious of Congregations and Orders in Ho Chi Minh city to volunteer to help the health sector within 1 to 2 months. And there were 531 religious registered to participate. They will be trained, vaccinated before working in hospitals and health facilities.
These things not only bring comfort to Ho Chi Minh city during difficult times, but also shine a light of hope for a bright Ho Chi Minh city ahead because after the rain the sky is brighter and has a rainbow light.