“The history of the Salesians in Vietnam has taught us that we have to focus on people more than institutions, buildings, activities” , explains Fr Joseph Tran Hoa-Hung, Provincial of Vietnam.
Vietnam has a dark period in its history. The arrival of the Communists amidst a very tough war forced the population to learnt o adapt to conditions of poverty, not only material but also intellectual and spiritual. Foreign missionaries were expelled from the country and the Salesians who remained there had difficult trials to surmount. “It is a time we could compare to the seed beneath the soil hoping for the moment when it can sprout. From this we learned that to understand and influence people we had to be with them, learn about their life and share their problems”, Fr Joseph added. Today in Vietnam, the Salesians see more clearly than ever before that people come first and that a threefold dialogue is needed in order to move ahead. a dialogue with the poor, with local religions and with culture.
The education and formation of the young is the priority for the Salesians in Vietnam. “The intellectual and academic level of the young leaves much to be desired. The Communist system of education, more than being a critical mentality, tends to foster a passive kind of learning”, Fr Joseph says. “and we have not forgotten that a basic human formation is essential so that education is not mere preparation for a job and that the changes going on in Vietnam be more than superficial ones”, he added.
The Salesian Mission Spanish website is seeking help for Vietnam from its users. It offers the following factoids about VIE:
- 15 presences
- 258 Salesians
- 17 oratories
- 6 vocational training centres
- 2 job-training centres
- 1 street-children centre
- 5 boarding establishments
- 1 social development centre