Get involvedLocal Culture

Take a look at our video diary captured during a road trip in late 2017 to showcase the work we do in Vietnam. Completing small projects on the ground and working with local communities is how we ensure that donated money is used where it's most needed.

We leverage existing networks in Vietnam, including Christian monasteries and Buddhist temples. Nuns do much of the welfare work in Vietnam that governments would fund in Western countries. Monastic life is important in Vietnam for protection of the socially excluded.

The Sounds of Vietnam

In these sound recordings from a typical day at a women’s Christian monastery (convent), 40 sisters protect their precious 350 year old monastic tradition with song and prayer chants. Their music underpins local culture and spiritualism in the villages. They belong to the Holy Cross Order and are based in the village of Huong Phuong, Quang Binh Province, Central Vietnam.

These sounds were recorded on a typical day. They include daily rhythms of sisters setting chairs in the dining room; crickets chirping in the convent courtyard; sisters chatting as they wait for the evening bell and choir practice in a poor village.

1. Alleluia – The sisters sing this ancient Hebrew phrase which is often combined with verses of Scripture.

1. Prayer bell – At 4.15am the convent bell (a mortar shell from the Vietnam War) calls the sisters to prayer. The day is interspersed with prayer sessions at 5–6.15am, 10.30–11.00am, 1.35-2.30pm and 7.30-830pm, with lights out at 9pm.

3. Easter Alleluia – The sisters sing an Alleluia written for Easter, the most important feast day of the Christian calendar, accompanied by their standard instrument, the Yamaha portable electric keyboard.

4. Grace before meals – Following prayers, sisters gather in the dining room and stand together, facing the image of the last supper. They chant the Grace and set chairs for the meal.

5. Sanctus and Agnus Dei– These two ancient prayers form part of the order of the mass. The Sanctus (Latin for Holy – Thánh) is the final prayer of consecration of the bread and wine. The Latin prayer Agnus Dei (Lamb of God – Lạy Chiên Thiên Chúa) is from the reported exclamation of John the Baptist: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It is sung during breaking of the bread.

6. Intercessions to Mary – In preparation for the Rosary chant at morning and evening prayers, the sisters ask for Mary to intercede on their behalf. Each line is chanted in two parts, ending in Cầu cho chúng con! – Pray for us!

7. Kyrie and Gloria – These two ancient prayers are part of the order of the mass. The venerated Greek prayer Kyrie, eleison (Xin Chúa thương xót chúng con – Lord, have Mercy) is used as a response in the mass. The Gloria in excelsis Deo (Latin for Glory to God in the highest – Vinh danh Thiên Chúa trên các tầng trời,) is sung or recited after the Kyrie.

8. Nuns chatting – After evening prayer, in the sticky heat of twilight, the young sisters drift off to music or dance practice, or work in the kitchen. Sisters Huong and Nga chat for a moment in the convent courtyard to catch up on village family news, while waiting for the meal bell.