When the confinement caused by the pandemic started on April 1, 2020 in Laos, the SSVP received generous donations to support those families that were most affected by this situation and were already burdened by poverty and unemployment.
The SSVP members developed an action plan to gather data from Vientiane families in need of support. They split in groups to distribute bags of rice and other food items.
Some locations were hard to reach due to government restrictions. SSVP members received help from the Church or gathered in small places where they could provide aid in those locations. However, in most cases, help was delivered door to door to comfort the hearts of the poorest and to get to know the actual situation of our brothers and sisters in need.
Food distribution began from 19 to 21 April 2020, with the help of the Daughters of Charity, delivering 20 sacks of rice (20 kg per sack) and other food items to 20 families.
The SSVP group provided additional support to families in need from 24 to 27 April 2020.
All recipients were extremely thankful for all the help received and wished all the members of St. Vincent de Paul to stay safe and healthy to keep on providing their service. Many of these vulnerable groups, especially single-parent families, the lonely, the elderly and the disabled acknowledged that SSVP gives them a reason for hope, since SSVP is their main support to cope with the hardships in their life, which is aggravated by the pandemic.
The Vincentians in Laos say: “We can’t change the whole world, but we can do small deeds for others”. This is how 108 families from 24 different villages received help from the SSVP.
On May 14, 2020, the SSVP delivered food to 7 families in Phon Sinuane, Viantiane, who lost their homes to a fire caused by an electric short circuit. Some of these families were able to move in with their cousins or other relatives, but all of them were experiencing an extremely difficult situation.
On May 21, the SSVP team, in cooperation with the village leaders, distributed rice to families in need in Nongda, Nonkeylek and Thongpong in the Sikhouttavong district. Door-to-door deliveries provided the opportunity to talk with the families and get to know their actual situation, so they can be supported whenever they need help or in the near future. Some families were already in much need prior to the confinement and did not have a regular income to cover their basic needs. No one supported them. Other families work occasionally in temples in exchange for food. A total of 91 families in 25 villages received help on this day.
In conclusion, the Vincentians in Laos have learned many lessons during the pandemic. First off, they were on the front line experiencing the harsh realities and the sufferings of those in need. Secondly, their work as SSVP Laos has been strengthened and recognized. Every time they go to distribute aid, they offer their time knowing the risk of contracting the virus, but they still continue serving poor families and those in need of the love of God, believing and trusting that He will protect them and their families. “And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)