Catholics in Hoa Khanh are providing free accommodation as well as much needed advice and services for thousands of students in town this month for entrance exams at nearby universities and colleges. As many as 59,000 candidates are reportedly taking this year’s entrance examinations at the city’s six universities and eight colleges on July 4-5, 8-9 and 15-16. “We worked with our parish priest, Lovers of the Holy Cross and local Catholics to find free accommodation for candidates who can’t find or can’t afford accommodation,” said Joseph Nguyen Van Lan, head of the Catholic youth group in Hoa Khanh parish, said. Lan, 23, said over 300 candidates are currently staying in the parish church with their relatives who are accompanying them, he added. He said female candidates and their relatives are staying at a nearby convent. In the past, poor students who couldn’t afford or get accommodation in boarding houses had to sleep in the open or in the church compound, he said. Local boarding houses were fully booked one week ahead of the exams, he said. “Around 30 young volunteers are taking students to local Catholic-run restaurants where they can get cheap meals,” he said. Other volunteers are handing out maps and acting as guides in case any candidates have problems. Anna Le Thi Kim Anh, a Catholic student, said volunteers donated 20,000 dong (US$1) each to buy water bottles and print maps pinpointing 46 exam venues for candidates. “I want to do something useful as a way of expressing my gratitude to Sacred Heart Brothers in Hue city who gave me free accommodation at their monastery five years ago,” one volunteer said. Father Marcel Doan Minh, head of Caritas in Da Nang diocese, said the Church also plans to provide free food and allow candidates to stay at the cathedral from July 6-10.