The 13 Houses Campaign keeps growing: with the launch of the call for proposals on 30 August 2022, we witnessed the Vincentian desire to strengthen a ‘network of charity’ for homeless people that goes beyond geographical borders.

The objective of the call was to extend a particular invitation to Vincentian Family members in countries yet to join the 13 Houses Campaign, so we could widen the Vincentian mission at the service of the poorest.

The call (which ended on February 28, 2023) saw various expressions of interest from new countries in particular: Liberia, Lesotho, Sudan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mexico, Bolivia, Syria and Vietnam. The expressions of interest received also came from different branches of the Vincentian family, including: Daughters of Charity (DC); Congregation of the Mission (CM); International Association of Charities (AIC); and Vincentian Marian Youth (VMY).

Month after month, by word of mouth, you have helped us strengthen this movement; we feel honoured to bear witness to this lively interest in the service of the poorest and we look forward to seeing new projects in these and other countries. Thanks to the 13 Houses project stories we hear, the work of Vincentian Family members is brought to life, inspiring others to continue serving people experiencing homelessness. We hope the call offered encouragement to new countries to start their own project. Here you can find a list of countries that still need to join the Campaign: our mission continues!

Vietnam answers the 13 Houses call: an example of Vincentian collaboration

The Congregation of the Mission – in collaboration with other Vincentian branches (DC, VMY, SSVP) – chose Phinh Ho Parish to start a 13 Houses project in October 2022. The project, ‘Houses for Poor Families’, involved the construction of four new houses over three months, benefitting around 30 indigenous people who were living in inadequate housing. The families saw their homes completed just before Christmas and experienced the Vincentian warmth of love and hope in their lives.

Despite the challenges encountered, (such as the difficulties related to the transportation of materials in mountainous areas) the Vincentian fathers, sisters and the beneficiaries cooperated to complete the project. The houses represent just a first step of a systemic change to empower these families to live a dignified life. The Vincentian branches will support them with the education for the children, the provision of vocational training (for example repairing cars, cutting hair etc.), and supporting the parents to get a job or start a small business from their homes (for example, selling fruit and vegetables).

As Fr Francisco Xavier Nguyen Thanh Ly, CM Visitor said: “This project, it’s not just about building a house but building a better home”.

  • As a Vincentian, what did it mean for you to be part of the 13 Houses Campaign? 

As a Vincentian, I think this project is not only a social movement but also deeply rooted in Vincentian spirituality and charism. Through this project, we see the vivid spirituality that Saint Vincent de Paul left for his followers to serve the poor and people experiencing homelessness. This project will bring hope to those who are hopeless. From this, we also recognize that the Vincentian charism is a practical spirituality, as Pope Francis has said, “We have to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to lift them out of their marginal situation.”

As a part of the 13 Houses Campaign, this reminds us that we need to do more for the poor to transform their situation, as Saint Vincent has worked restlessly for the poor in his time. The situation of poverty is always present in our world, so if we want to eradicate it, we need to become a network of charities. The integrated strength is a powerful instrument to transform the context of people who are experiencing homelessness and bring more hope to the poor.

  • Are there any achievements/lessons learned from this project that you would like to share?

This project is a powerful resource for systemic change. It affects the whole life of people. This project’s solidarity will aid in the realization of systemic change, a fundamental factor of solid transformation. To fulfil this project, I need to learn from many people, many aspects of how to work together and how to arrange a project. Therefore, before helping the poor, I have to change my mindset about this problem to serve them better.

We have built four houses with the support of FHA, but I think this project won’t end; it will continue to build houses and towers of hope and solidarity for people experiencing homelessness. This project would be an encouragement for us to go further in the future.

  • A brief invite to other Vincentians worldwide to join the Campaign

Now I can see the strength of solidarity in serving the poor and I also see the effects of this project on the lives of poor families, I would like to invite all branches of the Vincentian family in each country to join this project. That is our mission and our spirituality. Let us live and share our charism with those who are homeless through a network of charities and solidarity; practically, through the 13 Houses Campaign.

An interview with Fr Peter Phạm Min Triêu

13 Houses project coordinator in Vietnam