|A Bình Chánh District official visits children orphaned because of the pandemic. HCM City will continue to support orphans and older locals who lack support, according to Lê Minh Tấn, director of the city’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. — Photo sggp.org.vn
The COVID-19 pandemic is leaving many children without parents and many older people without adult caretakers in HCM City. Lê Minh Tấn, director of the city’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, spoke with Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) about how the city is caring for orphans and older residents due to the pandemic.
How many children and older people have lost their families due to COVID-19 in HCM City?
HCM City currently has 637 older people without family members and caretakers, as well as nearly 1,400 children under the age of 16 and around 600 teenagers between 16 and 18 years old who have lost their parents due to the pandemic. There are 67 children under the age of two, with nine of them being newborns from mothers who contracted the disease and died while giving birth.
Many orphans who were being raised by their grandparents have now lost their grandparents too.
How is HCM City currently supporting and caring for these orphans and older people who have no support?
Many children are facing emotional trauma and need to be looked after and allowed to go to school. Many older people also no longer have caretakers, and need to have someone to share their difficulties.
HCM City is providing social relief for these locals, and departments, businesses and donors are also offering support to orphans and older people to help them overcome their difficulties.
As many as 21 districts, Thủ Đức City, and social protection facilities are tallying up and examining different cases in the city. The Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs is working on programmes to raise funds to support and care for orphans and lonely old people.
The city is also calling for the community’s aid to provide physical and emotional support for these locals. Local wards, communes, towns and HCM City's Việt Nam Fatherland Front Committee branch can receive donations.
Currently, 215 children are receiving financial aid from donors worth up to VNĐ3 million (US$131.95) per children per month, for up to 15 years.
How will HCM City look after young children in the future, who especially need support and guidance as they grow up?
Until the end of 2021, the city is offering social relief to orphans and older people who are alone as the result of COVID-19, ranging from VNĐ380,000 to VNĐ900,000 per person per month.
Children will receive milk, food and essential goods, as well as scholarships so they can attend schools, colleges and universities (until they are 22 years old). In addition to that, career guidance is also being offered.
The city is also encouraging banks and donors to open personal banking accounts and saving accounts for children.
The National Fund for Vietnamese Children is also allocating VNĐ1 million for each newborn of mothers with COVID-19 born from April 27 to September 30, as well as VNĐ2 million to children who have lost their parents due to the pandemic.
In 2022 the city will focus on providing sponsorship and assistance with legal matters (such as inheritance and property ownership rights) to older people who are alone and orphans.
Many individuals and organisations want to adopt orphans and care for older people without support. What are your thoughts on this?
These intentions are very admirable. Older people without support and orphans can be looked after by their relatives or the local community. They can also be cared for at social protection facilities.
HCM City’s Việt Nam Fatherland Front Committee is working with the department and other organisations to care for older people without support for the rest of their lives, with monthly cash and visits when they are ill. — VNS