Dear Friend, For this Lunar New Year (February 1st , 2003) we send you our wishes of peace and joy and thank you for your practice which makes life become more compassionate and more beautiful. Because of your generosity we have been able to give thousands of donations as a gift for the Lunar New Year to starving families in Vietnam. Following are brief news from a few regions where assistance is being offered. Central Vietnam Thua Thien and Quang Tri provinces: This is the poorest part of the country, small villages are scattered in dry mountains with no running water adn no electricity or toilets. Families live on cultivating small plots of land and have to carry water from the village well or the river to irrigate their crops. But this is not enough to feed them properly. Two nunneries under Sister Minh Tanh’s guidance contribute with seventeen social workers, trained by Thay. They cover forty villages and collaborate with local groups, including two parents, one local authority and one young person.
South Vietnam Lam Dong and Dong Nai provinces have fertile red soil. The young people marry early, have children having only a small hut they build themselves and try day to day to find work on the tea and coffee plantations. We have created nursery and kindergardens. Our donations help to buy rice, soy beans (to make soy milk) and vegetables for feeding the children at lunchtime and to pay the salary of the school teachers and assistants. Eight social workers cover thirty villages on the high lands and in the jungle.
Mekong Delta in Dong Thap, Cao Lanh, and Moc Hoa the soil is marshy but fertile. There is food (fish) but also sicknesses, snakes, and mosquitos. Special rice can be grown here when the water is 50 cm, but for five years floods have reached two meters high and stay for two months and a half. Humanitarian help has gone down since 11 September 2001 and many children have died. But all your contributions have arrived to help many of those out of work and starving families. Five social workers work together with local groups.
In North Vietnam Sister Dam Nguyen and twenty of her disciples visit poor families, typhoon victims and lepers.