Caritas Vietnam: Christmas Gift from American Wheelchair Mission
The American Wheelchair Mission (AWM) Organization visited some dioceses in Vietnam, especially Vinh and Thanh Hoa dioceses from November 24 – 30, 2018. This is the second time in 2018, AWM has come back Viet Nam for their great love to people with disabilities in Viet Nam. They distributed 290 wheelchairs, 30 tricycles and some walkers, canes to people with disabilities.
Sister Theresa Nguyen Thi Hoang Mai and Mr. Peter Truong Van Loc Gia, the members of Caritas Viet Nam, accompanied with six members of AWM: Mr. Christopher Joseph Lewis, the president of AWM, Mr. Daniel Lee Moberg, Troy Allan Chesnut, Randy Vincent Hale, and Ms. Tatiana Katterine Lewis. Particularly, Fr. Lane Kalani Akiona, belonging to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary Congregation, ministering as vicar at Holonunu, Hawaii, joined the AWM for visiting Vietnam this year. He asked for donation 145 tricycles to support Vietnamese disabilities.
In the first three days (November 26-28), the members of AWM worked with people in Vinh Diocese. Fr. John the Baptist Nguyen Huy Tuan, the director of Caritas Vinh, Fr. Anthony Le Cong Luong, vice director and the staff of Caritas Vinh accompanied with AWM. They visited nine parishes and distributed wheelchairs, tricycles, walkers and canes to people with disabilities in those parishes. All members have experienced and understood about how difficulty of people with disabilities in the remote areas is. The disabled who received these gifts were Catholic believers and non-Catholic believers as well as other ethnic groups of people with disabilities. Especially, they visited five poorest families among them. People in those families were very happy when the AWM came to visit. They were received wheelchairs, tricycles. Thus, they are grateful to benefactors for helping them with advantage means to move from place to another. With these helpful wheelchairs, they can take care of themselves and live independently. Indeed, they said that they would no longer see themselves as burdens for their family. Having experienced the fieldtrip, the members of AWM might be aware of the ongoing needs of people who are facing with the difficulty of disabilities. On this occasion, the AWM visited the Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, Vinh Diocese. The Bishop thanked the AWM for the charitable works that they have done for unlucky people in Vietnam, especially this certain diocese.
After that, the group spent two days in Thanh Hoa Diocese (November 29-30). They were accompanied by Fr. Paul Nguyen Van Thuong, director of Thanh Hoa Caritas, and the staffs as well. Participating in this charitable work, there is the Red Cross organization of Thanh Hoa province. It would be beautiful to care for people in needs when the Church goes hand in hand with the government. As a result, many non- Catholics were privileged to receive gratuitous gifts from the philanthropists.
In fact, having worked together for a short time, we as Caritas Vietnam and Diocesan Caritas feel the love of members of AWM for the Vietnamese disabled. They showed their kindness and compassion to people with disabilities that they encountered when giving. Especially Fr. Lane gave blessings on those wheelchairs. By sympathy, he embraced and kissed the disabled individually to strengthen them in their physical sufferings. The presence of AWM was a sign of the love of Jesus who shows his compassion to all people, especially those who are marginalized by the physical disabilities. According to Pope Francis, he emphasized in the Conference Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities “No physical or psychic limit may ever be an obstacle to this encounter, because the face of Christ shines in the intimacy of every person.” (https://zenit.org/articles/pope-evangelization-includes-disabled/). The Pope invites all Christians to love and supports the disabled people consistently. The people with disabilities are gifts that God sent to us, so that we can follow the footstep of Jesus to be merciful as He is.
For that reason, we as Caritas Vietnam are very appreciated for the generosity of the AWM for the gifts that the disable people in certain dioceses received. Their kindness would fill our hearts and the hearts of people who have benefitted from their charitable deeds. Regarding their good works, they are considered as mediators and living witnesses of God’s love on earth. It would be special gifts for people with disabilities in our country during this Christmas.
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