Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
A good deal for ethnic groups from fair trade scheme
Nuns ease ethnic trade burdens in VietnamMarie Y Thuong carrying bananas to the convent for goods exchanges
- ucanews.com reporter, Kon Tum City
- May 22, 2012
But itâs a journey Marie is happy to make, because she gets a fair deal when she exchanges her bananas for other food staples there.
âFor each hand of bananas, we get five loaves of bread, two bottles of soft drink, a package of instant noodles and 20 kilos of rice,â she says.Â âThe nuns also give us bags of second-hand clothes and weâre given meals, salt, fish sauce, sweets and money before returning home.â
This makes a welcome change for the 34-year-old mother of four, who cultivates bananas on a 1,500 square meter holding. Like other members of the Bahnar ethnic group, she used to take her produce to a local market where the wholesalers paid the barest minimum for it.
âWe had no option but to sell our products at those prices,â she says. âBut it meant we couldnât even afford to pay for basic necessities.â
The nuns at Saint Paul de Chartres have been operating their fair trade scheme since 2009. Â As well as bananas, they accept cassava, melons, bamboo shoots and other fruits for exchange.
âWe get about 100 to 200 villagers every day, from the Bahnar, Jarai, Rongao and Sodang ethnic groups,â says Sister Marguerite Vo Thi Thanh Huong,
âEach day we give out 2,000-3,000 kilos of rice, 2,000 kilos of instant noodles and four million dong in other foods and goods.â
Sister Huong, one of 12 nuns at the convent, says she got the idea for the scheme when she visited the many ethnic villages in this remote part of the central highlands.
âI saw they were living on bananas and cassava alone, as they were selling their bananas at such low prices, they didnât have money to buy any other food,â she says.
âSo I asked local priests to help save them from starvation by offering a fair exchanging of rice or money for their bananas.â
Around 30 parish priests and other benefactors have entered the scheme, supplying rice, cooking oil, salt, dry fish and cash in exchange for the villagersâ produce.
âThe priests then distribute the bananas to students, orphans, patients and elderly people,â says Sister Huong.