Church & Society

Hmong live faith despite religion restrictions March 18, 2018

Catholic communities of ethnic Hmong live in remote areas of the mountainous province of Yen Bai, northwestern Vietnam. Despite restrictions from the government, they are active in keeping their faith alive and passing it onto younger generations.

There are some 7,500 Catholics out of an estimated 100,000 Hmong ethnic people living for centuries in the province. Their ancestors received Catholicism from foreign missionaries in early 20th century. Most of the Hmong eke out a meagre living by working on farms, raising cattle, and collecting food from forests.

Old people teach prayers written in the Hmong language to children at home and they regularly pray together. They also perform their cultural traditions at church events.

In some areas, outside priests visit on a monthly basis to celebrate Mass for them. In other areas, priests are unable to visit them.

The faith of the Hmong is restricted by the government. They are not given permission to build chapels although they say that they have submitted many petitions to authorities.

At other villages, the Hmong are banned from gathering for prayers and they have to hide Catholic statues to avoid having problems from authorities.

(Photos and text by

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