Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — When Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul sisters started providing courses on housework for disadvantaged young women eight years ago, many people undervalued their work. In Vietnamese society, working as a housemaid is seen as lowly, like being a slave.
Sr. Pascale Le Thi Triu, an organizer, said her community saw a growing need for housemaids in the economically booming Ho Chi Minh City, so they took initiative.
"We have trained 300 professional housemaids and have met only one fourth of the demand for housemaids in the city," she said.
Triu is head of the nuns' social service office, where women aged 17 to 25 are selected by priests and nuns from respectable families for the yearlong training program. Four nuns serve as teachers at the Salesian-run Phuoc Loc Vocational Training Center in the neighboring Ba Ria Vung Tau Province -- the only center teaching housework skills in the country.
The women come from remote areas, many barely having finished secondary schools. They learn how to do household chores, cook various foods, serve food at restaurants and hotels, and use domestic appliances that many of them have never seen before.