Vietnam: Soc Trang Buddhists boost charity movements

Vietnam News Agency, Feb 22, 2005

Soc Trang, Vietnam -- The southern province of Soc Trang, home to 176 Buddhist pagodas, has launched a number of charity movements among Buddhists such as house building and providing medical care to the poor, said the provincial Sangha.

The provincial Sangha's executive council's deputy head, the Most Venerable Thich Thien Sanh, said its fund for the poor raised over 1.9 billion VND last year and expected to collect some 2 billion VND this year from followers.

The council has founded a charitable clinic at the Phat Hoc pagoda, which has provided free medical checks-up and treatments for hundreds of poor patients a day. A charitable meal programme, which was first launched at the Soc Trang Hospital, has been so far expanded to a number of other medical stations, where a large number of poor patients are hospitalised.

The charitable meal programme at the Soc Trang Hospital alone costs tens of millions of Vietnamese dong per month from the provincial Sangha's fund for the poor.