Sisters in Vietnam give HIV patients happier new year

HIV patients enjoy meal

Thanks to the efforts of local Catholic sisters in Vietnam, HIV patients, and others in need, find simple pleasures during the festival of Tet (Lunar New Year), reports NCR.

Hai Quyen (real name withheld), in her winter clothes, enthusiastically clapped in time to the music, repeating words of the song Xuan Da Ve (Spring Just Comes) while watching traditional dances performed by a group of nuns.

Her face also lit up while she was talking with other people to wish them the best in the Lunar New Year. Hai Quyen, 37, was among 152 people with HIV/AIDS who attended the year-end party held at a convent of Daughters of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, in central Hue City on Jan. 22.

They were treated to national dishes prepared by nuns and given sugar, cooking oil, candied ginger, Tet cards and money in traditional lucky red envelopes.

'The party is keeping me warm in spite of the cold weather,' Hai Quyen, mother of two, said. 'It is nice to meet people here and exchange best wishes on the Tet festival.

'We are deeply grateful to the nuns and volunteers for the special meeting. The Tet festival is an occasion for family members to reunite, visit their relatives and have parties. Without food, it is a bad sign for the new year,' she noted.

Hai Quyen said she started to sell plastic items for a living in 2012 after local nuns had offered her five million dong ($238.00 US) to get started. Her two daughters study at a local school, and they live together with her mother in a dingy 24-square-metre house in the Phong Dien district.

The woman, who was infected with HIV from her husband who died of AIDS in 2012, said that she used to run a small grocery but that it went bankrupt. The stigma of HIV/AIDS is still strong in Vietnam, and local people refused to buy goods from Hai Quyen because they were afraid they would catch the deadly disease from her family.

FULL STORY Sisters in Vietnam help the poor enjoy a happier lunar new year (NCR)

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