Buddhist University Joins in Response to HIV/AIDS Crisis
Hue, 15 October 2004: For the first time in Viet Nam, the Hue Buddhist Academy, one of the main teaching universities for Buddhist monks and nuns, is joining in the fight to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam.
Thirty five monks and nuns who are studying at the Academy, have completed a week long training in HIV/AIDS. Using the principles of Dharma (Buddhist teaching), the monks and nuns, have learned how to take an important role in community-level HIV/AIDS prevention, by providing spiritual counselling, food and essentials to people with HIV/AIDS and mobilizing community support for people living with HIV/AIDS.
“HIV/AIDS is not just an illness but a wider social problem that is threatening the future and development of the entire nation”, said Most Venerable Thich Chon Thien, the President of the Hue Buddhist Academy.
The training, organized and supported by UNICEF Viet Nam, in collaboration with the National Fatherland Front and the Vietnamese Buddhist Association, was conducted by Mr Laurie Maund, a trainer of more than 8 years experience and who has worked with Buddhist monks and nuns throughout the Mekong region. “Viet Nam is embracing the Buddhist Leadership Initiative, which is now practiced in 10 countries. Monks and nuns are using their strength and credibility in the community to encourage compassion and healing and this training will see more monks and nuns taking an active role in HIV/AIDS support and prevention”, Mr Maund said.
The monks and nuns have pledged that on returning to their pagodas they will work together with other community resources in HIV/AIDS prevention and care by providing education to the community and care for people infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
The Buddhist Leadership Initiative, first began in Viet Nam in August 2002, with the support of UNICEF Viet Nam and the National Fatherland Front. Pilot pagoda based activities are underway at Phap Van pagoda in Hanoi and Ky Quang 2 and Dieu Giac pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City. The programme is now being expanded to Tra Vinh in the south west of Viet Nam and Hue in the centre of the country.
For further information please contact:
Sue Spencer, UNICEF Communication
Mr Trinh Anh Tuan, UNICEF Communication