A school instituted out of love for the most deprived children of Ho Chi Minh City. The visit of Laura Mattarella, daughter of the President of the Italian Republic.
It was not at all easy to delineate a social project from the start, as it occurred for the Pho Cap School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. A few days ago, this project was honoured by the private visit of Laura Mattarella, daughter of the Italian Republic’s President, who accompanied her father on an official visit to the country. Laura Mattarella who came to visit the 100 children of the school, was welcomed simply – without protocols – by some members of the Focolare Movement, the current heads and collaborators of the School.
Pho Cap School was established in 1998 by a Focolare priest, with the help of some university students who were among the first to adhere to the spirituality of unity: a project inspired by love for the poor who filled the Binh Thanh district. The school facility was an abandoned house, and once cleaned from the numerous syringes, the youth rebuilt the roof, then the toilets and electric and water systems. All was done with small donations received, and a lot of sacrifice. The youth became whitewashers, labourers, plumbers and electricians… One of them, now a Focolarino, remembers those days: “It was tough work, but the spirit of the Movement pushed us to love concretely. Also some labourers gave a hand. The project was really achieved together!”
In a few weeks, the facilities became liveable and so schooling activities started. It was a matter of convincing the people to send their children, and making them understand that it was better for them to study rather than work. In fact, many of those children passed their days on the street of Saigon selling lottery tickets and did not go to school. The young people had to go from house to house to look for the “students.” After the first group was formed, soon also some girls joined in, and gave their time and enthusiasm to the project.
From a small group of students who were not given any meals, the school started to hand out daily snacks, and then lunch. The project continually developed, overcoming many difficulties. It was a success and became a school of “prestige” but which remained poor and for the poor just the same, though managing to give a convincing testimonial in a difficult suburban context. Most of the children come from Buddhist families but in the eyes of the children of Pho Cap, one can see trust, serenity and zest for life. Laura Mattarella noticed this and wanted to keep the photos of this “beautiful” meeting, as she said, in its simplicity, and so full of humanity, gentleness and relationships.
The school directress commented: “The visit of the daughter of the Italian Republic President encouraged us to continue in the spirit that inspires us: living fraternity among us, the collaborators, and transmitting it to the students, so they in turn become messengers of this spirit in their families and in society.”