The home of Lam Bich, run by the sisters of the Holy Cross of Dong Ha Convent, is home to nearly seventy children, some of whom are physically handicapped, to provide schooling and care for these children. Van Kieu ethnic group, in the mountainous districts of Da Krong and Huong Hoa. The two districts have nearly 1,200 Catholics and five mission stations. The province of Quang Tri, which was the scene of fierce fighting between US troops and communists in the north, has about 55,000 people of the Van Kieu ethnic group.

Pierre Ho Van Long, whose two legs are paralyzed, launched a project to sell bamboo products in 2017, along with 27 other disabled members of the Van Kieu ethnic group, who produce together baskets, tables, chairs, brooms , toothpicks and others. It only took them a few months to learn this trade, and they can earn up to $ 86 a month, selling their produce in local markets. Many of them pass on what they have learned. Pierre Long explains that today, a hundred people have joined the project, and some also produce alcoholic beverages based on rice or fruit."The goal of the project is to help people of the Van Kieu ethnic group earn a better living because traditionally they work on farms or farms. When food starts to run out, they leave their villages and go begging in the cities, " adds Pierre Long, a father of two, who also teaches computers to children, at his home in Huc Nghi, in the district of Da Krong from Quang Tri Province, in north central Vietnam. The house of Pierre Long, 35, also serves as a chapel for Catholic villagers, for prayer vigils organized on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Pierre Long takes care of a missionary station of five hundred members.

"All my services are intended to express my deep gratitude to the Catholic nuns who have helped to improve the material and spiritual situation of our ethnic communities for decades,"He says. The partners of the Sisters of the Holy Cross offer school fees to children, many of whom, in return, become teachers in public schools. Sisters send experts to the villages to provide vocational training, offer livestock to raise, repair homes and, when needed, provide care and food assistance. The nuns also urge villagers to abandon their superstitious beliefs, starting with the practices of those who bury live children with their deceased mothers. Today, when they are sick, Catholic villagers take medicine instead of calling the shaman. Sister Anna tran Thi Hien, in charge of the convent of Donc Ha, The sisters welcomed Pierre Long into their home in Lam Bich in 1998, after convincing his parents to let them raise him for free until graduation. Sister Hien, a doctor, adds that the nuns offered her a wheelchair and a home while paying for her studies. Every month, they transported his relatives so that they could visit him.

Five mission stations for 1,200 Catholics

Pierre Long graduated in mathematics and computer science at the Hue University of Science in central Vietnam in 2015. He also received training on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius before returning to his native village. Sister Anna Hien confides that her family, grateful, became Catholic in 2000. In their villages, they are the first Catholics of the Van Kieu ethnic group. Many people send their children under the care of the nuns. The Lam Bich shelter can house up to 70 children free of charge, including children with physical disabilities. "Pierre Long is one of 28 catechists who organize regular prayers in people's homes, who teach catechism to other villagers and present them to priests",Sister Anna adds that the authorities are trying to prevent priests and nuns from organizing pastoral visits to ethnic communities. Pierre Long, whose wife is a teacher, confides that her husband evangelises discreetly to his colleagues. Every month, many people drive more than 100 kilometers on a motorbike to receive the sacraments at Khe Xanh Church. Pierre explains that there are nearly 1,200 Catholics in the five mission stations in the mountainous districts of Da Krong and Huong Hoa. They gather weekly at one or the other, and those who are in good health can go to the church of Khe Sanh for mass."We try to build good relationships with the villagers, we offer them education and care so that they can live with dignity," says Sister Anna Hien. "They choose to embrace Catholicism because they trust us and have found meaning in their lives. "

(Source: Églises d'Asie - le 25/06/2019, With Ucanews, Dong Ha)