Covid-19 relief to Ho Chi Minh city’s poorest
Vietnam could have been one of the hotspots for Covid-19. With a population of almost 100 million people and a shared border with China, there was a significant risk the virus would spread rapidly. Fortunately, the country’s government acted early. They enforced nationwide school closures after the first case was confirmed in Ho Chi Minh City on 23 January and lockdown was imposed from 1 April.
However, as witnessed in many developing countries during this period, lockdown disproportionately affected the lives of the poorest in society. Like elsewhere, in Ho Chi Minh lockdown made it impossible to earn a living. The most vulnerable population of the city lost their jobs and were not covered by the government’s social assistance due to their casual labour status. These included domestic workers, food deliverers, taxi drivers, and street vendors, many of whom have disabilities.
Responding to the needs of the city’s most vulnerable residents, the Jesuits of the Vietnam Province coordinated a relief effort. They coordinated an active response in the city between April and July which saw them working with religious sisters and over 50 lay collaborators. The relief they offered was divided into two phases. Initially they provided food baskets of fish oil and rice to almost 3,000 families with no income throughout lockdown. As lockdown was lifted earlier than expected, the Jesuits provided financial support to 100 families who started new jobs after lockdown. Several of these families are now working together as a cooperative of tailors with sewing machines provided by the Jesuits. This means they can earn a living again after the disruption of lockdown.
Looking for ways to help? You can donate to our emergency appeal here.