Society Matters | Volume 33 No. 2 | Winter 2023

Volume 33 No. 2 | Winter 2023 4 Society Matters SVD helps migrants and the poor get back on their feet after pandemic When COVID-19 hit the streets of Saigon in Vietnam everyone was affected by the economic impact, but the situation was particularly dire for migrants, the poor and factory workers, with many finding it hard to put food on the table. A project by the Divine Word Missionaries in Vietnam, supported by the SVD Australia Province through our benefactors and partners in mission, helped carry those people through the worst of the pandemic and get them back on their feet. In a report on the project, the SVD Provincial in Saigon, Fr Hung Minh Joseph Tran, said the fourth wave of COVID, from May 2021, brought many challenges and hardships for the Vietnamese people, especially in Saigon and its nearby province. “This rapid outbreak meant that all fields were affected, such as education, the economy, religion, politics and the spirituality of the city people,” he said. Fr Tran said that in education, students were unable to go to school because of the lockdown. In the economy, factories were closed, jobs were lost and the impact on income seriously affected people’s living conditions. And in religion, closed churches affected the spiritual lives of Christians. “The lockdown policy made everything stop suddenly, and people did not have enough time to prepare for their livelihood,” Fr Tran said. “The migrants, the poor, the workers were stuck in the city, lacking support. “At the same time, public transportation services were also stopped, so people could not go back to their hometown. They had to remain in the city with anxieties of contagion and financial shortage which had an impact on food, healthcare, price escalation and other impacts.”