Distribution Partner: Caritas Vietnam / Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries in Southeast Asia with more than 9 million Catholics, who make up the second largest religious group behind the Buddhists.
Catholic churches and strong parish communities are everywhere in the southern half of the country, but the central and northern areas have well established parish councils who volunteer tirelessly to help meet the needs of the very poor populations.
Caritas Vietnam has recently been granted permission by the government to operate its charitable mission throughout the country, and is the official distribution partner of the Knights of Columbus.
Under the supervision of His Eminence Cardinal Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man, Fr. Vincent Vu Ngoc Dong is the Director of Caritas Vietnam and has been responsible for distributing more than 1,000 wheelchairs sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.
The KofC/Wheelchair Mission team traveled most recently to Ho Chi Minh City, Qui Nhon, Danang and Hue to deliver wheelchairs to residents who have never been able to afford a wheelchair. Caritas offices in each city identify the recipients, and Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri of Danang has taken a strong interest in expanding our mission.
A man in Danang named James Phung was waiting for us at his local church with Caritas Danang Director Fr. Minh. James walks by using two red step stools to shift his weight from one to the other and move himself along the ground. This is how he “walks” to church. James lost his legs in a firefight that took place in his village in 1972 when he was only 7 years old. For the past 40 years he has needed a wheelchair and is so happy to be on Fr. Minh’s list of recipients. He will work hard to help others with physical disabilities and volunteer more often at the church.
There are many misconceptions in the U.S. about the country and people in Vietnam. In our extensive experience, we are welcomed by so many like minded people who want only to help those in need, that the hands on collaboration with Caritas Vietnam has become one of the most efficient and effective distribution relationships we enjoy anywhere in the world. The Catholic churches are the centers of the communities, and the local priests work with extreme dedication to their parishioners when helping us identify those who can best benefit from the gift of a wheelchair.