Vietnam: Meet Trinh

Lent is a 40-day journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This Lenten season, Catholic Relief Services asks Catholics to remember the Gospel story of the feeding of the 5,000. “Just as the modest amount of five loaves and two fish was multiplied to be shared by thousands, small sacrifices add up to make a big difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world,” CRS said.


CRS Rice Bowl invites you to get to know three girls from Honduras, Vietnam and Kenya, reflect on their stories of hope, share a meatless meal with your family, and donate the money you save as well as other funds to the Rice Bowl program. Funds support CRS programs around the world. Twenty-five percent of the total alms collected in our diocese remain here to support hunger alleviation efforts.


Rice Bowl resources are offered in both English and Spanish and are available in print and on the web. Find them at: or You can also join the CRS Rice Bowl Facebook group. Organizations interested in applying for a Local Rice Bowl Grant can obtain the grant guidelines and application form by contacting the St. Cloud Mission Office at 320-251-1100 or visiting



(Image from CRS Ricebowl)


Meet our global family

Now it’s time to meet a girl from Vietnam. As you read about Trinh and her family, think about what you might have in common with them.




Sisters Nguyen Thi Trinh (12) and Nguyen Thi Trang (9) play in the field behind the family home while their mother, To Thi Kim Tien (46) looks on. (Photo by Eric Clayton/Catholic Relief Services)

Trinh is a hard-working, energetic 12-year-old. She lives in the farming community of Binh Dao, located outside of the city of Hoi An, Vietnam with her parents, two older brothers and younger sister. Her country is in Southeast Asia and is surrounded on three sides by water. Trinh speaks Vietnamese.






Home and Family

For Trinh, home is where her family gathers—to play, to eat, to rest. “My family is the most important thing to me,” she says.

One way she shows her family love is by doing chores around the house. She helps her family by bathing her little sister, Trang, showing her how to wash her hands and helping her with schoolwork. Trinh likes washing the teapot and cups and collecting eggs from the ducks. Often, Trinh will ride her bike to get medicine for her parents when they are sick.

Trinh likes to catch dragonflies and crickets with her sister. Since her house is surrounded by rice fields, and coconut and bamboo trees, there’s plenty of places for the sisters to play. But the house is also near a river, and when storms pass through, Trinh’s home often fills with water. “I wish I would have a house that is not wet or leaky and would not flood anymore,” says Trinh.

In Vietnam, CRS is working with students like Trinh, helping them to learn ways to protect their home, food and family from destructive storms. Trinh is happy that she can apply what she learned in school to help her family.

In the Gospel story of the loaves and the fishes, Jesus fed the crowd because they were far from home, hungry and without food. Have you ever been far from home and hungry? How can you help feed people whose homes may be far from yours?





Nguyen Thi Trang (9) returns home from school. She is the youngest of the Nguyen family. (Photo by Eric Clayton/Catholic Relief Services)


Joy of Learning

Trinh’s father, Vinh, is also proud of his daughter for her studies. “My lovely daughter, Trinh, is healthy, athletic and loved by her friends at school. I hope she can get into university and be a role model for her sister.”

“My parents didn’t send us to school,” Vinh says. “Now, as a parent, I want my children educated so they can contribute to our community.”

That’s why Trinh rides her bike to school everyday. Her favorite subject is English, and her favorite game is tung bung, which is played with a jump rope. In addition to traditional school subjects, a special CRS program teaches students ways to keep their families and their homes safe when typhoons hit. Trinh shares this information with her parents, and now the family is better prepared for dangerous weather. They know to take cows to a safe, high place and to put food on the top shelf during storms so it will not wash away or spoil.

“Going to school,” says Trinh, “helps us understand more.”

People followed Jesus because they wanted to learn from him. His own disciples called him “teacher.” What did you learn from Jesus in the Gospel story of the loaves and the fishes?





Dreams for the Future

Nguyen Thi Trinh (Born 2007, 12 years old) and her mother, To Thi Kim Tien (Born 1975, 44 years old) sit together in the morning at home in Van Dao village. (Photo by Lynzy Billing for Catholic Relief Services)


“Trinh will be different than me. I want her to be fully educated and not drop out of school. It’ll be hard for us at home—but I’m prepared to work to make Trinh’s dreams come true.

-Tien, Trinh’s mother

Trinh dreams of becoming a doctor. “I want to be a doctor to help poor patients,” says Trinh. “When my father is in pain, I want to cure him.”

She knows that if she wants to achieve her dream, she’ll need to attend university. Trinh’s parents are ready to help her get there. “Trinh will be different than me,” her mother, Tien, says. “I want her to be fully educated and not drop out of school. It’ll be hard for us at home—but I’m prepared to work to make Trinh’s dreams come true.”

Jesus calls each of us to use our gifts and talents in the service of others. What gifts and talents have you been blessed with? How might you use your gifts to help




Crispy Pancakes – Vietnamese Recipe


(Photo by Lauren Carroll/Catholic Relief Services)

Makes 4 servings

For Pancakes

  • 1 c rice flour
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 scallion, sliced thin
  • Oil (for cooking)

For Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

  • 6 Tbsp warm water
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red chili, minced

For The Filling

  • 2 c fresh bean sprouts
  • ½ lb small shrimp, peeled
  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • Mint and cilantro for garnish

For The Vietnamese Rice Flour Pancakes Mix all pancake batter ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. For The Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham) Mix all the dipping sauce ingredients. Set aside.

To Prepare the Filling Preheat a 9 inch, non-stick skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the bean sprouts and cook until most of the moisture has evaporated. Remove the sprouts from the pan and set aside. Increase the heat to medium high. Add 1 tsp of oil to the skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through. Add the scallions and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.

To Make the Pancakes Add ½ tsp of oil to the skillet (if it looks dry) and pour about ½ c of the batter into the hot pan, tilting the pan quickly to create an even layer of batter that coats the pan. Distribute some of the cooked filling and bean sprouts over half of the batter and cover the skillet for 2-3 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Remove the lid and reduce the heat to medium, cooking until the bottom of the pancake is crispy, 3-5 minutes. Once the bottom of the pancake is golden and crispy, fold the pancake in half over the filling. Transfer to a plate and serve. Continue with the remaining batter and filling, adding a little oil as needed before pouring the batter.

Materials are gathered from Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl:

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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