Joyful Summer with Jesus
This summer, 9 temporary professed from St. Augustine Scholasticate had apostolic activities in a mountainous region of Vietnam, near the Cambodian border. On this ground, a new fraternity of the CND was founded in 2021.
With Father Vuong, pastor, and three sisters of the fraternity, we prepared an educational session for the children of Loc Hoa parish, Binh Phuoc province, from June 13 to July 30, 2022. At the beginning, only about a hundred children came. Gradually, the number increased to nearly 150, most of whom are S'tieng. The purpose of this session was to give them a space to play, communicate, consolidate their school knowledge, and for initiation into the Christian faith. We call it " Joyful Summer with Jesus »
The life of the S'tieng children is as simple and innocent as the mountains and the forests. They live according to the ancestral culture of their tribe: the love of freedom and nature. Such a way of life would be very good if it weren't for the poverty whose origin is underemployment, hard work whose remuneration is lamentable... Illiterate, the majority is prevented from advancing further in life. life: they easily succumb to bad habits such as alcoholism, laziness or waste… This is why the simple and innocent souls of these children are often corrupted by bad examples, and currently by the presence of smartphones.
Indeed here, despite poverty, from the age of two, a child can play with a mobile phone in his hands. Outside of school, most of the S'tieng students don't like to do their school homework because they are horribly attracted to the games in the smartphone. It's not hard to find boys or girls on the street herding buffaloes while playing “Games” on their smartphones. It is said that S'tieng parents spoil their children so much that they never deny them anything. If a young person wants to buy a smartphone but his parents do not accept it, he will commit suicide or leave his family!
Coming to this summer session, these children are very active and enthusiastic in activities, games, dances. At the same time, they are helped in their efforts to finish their little homework each day, to be attentive to the environment, to communicate politely with others... The day's program is therefore rich and varied. From seven o'clock in the morning, the children are already in the courtyard of the church : the breakfast prepared by the parish is ready for everyone! Then they take remedial lessons, have lunch together and take turns doing the dishes. After the siesta in the church, they learn catechism, etiquette or art lessons (drawing, organ, guitar, etc.) and have fun together. At four-thirty they go home.
About forty children who are very far from the church stay at the parish all week. The priest reserves two large rooms, one for the girls, the other for the boys. Every evening, after dinner, with these “residents”, we follow the priest to pray and say the rosary in a family. The next evening, it will be in another family. It is thanks to this time of prayer that we can better understand the real life of the inhabitants here. Families are baptized after praying in this way.
Educating these children is a labor of love that requires a lot of patience, gentleness and modesty. For us, it's a seed process, hard work. However, after a few weeks, the results are greatly encouraging. A little girl -standing, alone- reading a poem aloud, a group of children successfully performing a play, a few children solving a calculation problem in accordance with the class program...: at such sight, joy bursts in us, the joy of already seeing their future: responsible adults who will build society and the Church.
Thérèse Nguyễn Thị Bình Tâm
siesta in the church
Evening prayer in families
Joyful Summer with Jesus