Time: 23 Nov – 6 Dec
Place: Gia Bac Lam Dong
Members: 21 students of Saint Andrew Junior College
[EVG Learning and Cultural Hall] included:
– EVG Class room
– EVG Cultural Hall
Sunshine was a cooperation project between EVG and Saint Andrew’s Junior College, taken place at Gia Bac Commune, the poorest commune belong to Di Linh District, Lam Dong province. The locals here at Gia Bac live mainly on growing coffee and corns. Their incomes are really low; consequently, they don’t care much about education for their children. In order to fight poverty, the initial task is to change their outdated thoughts fixed in their mind. Step by step, EVG has been tried our best to reach this target. Understanding the importance of education and the preservation of K’hor’s culture, which is gradually falling into oblivion, in 23/11, we, Singaporean volunteers from SAJC and three volunteers of ECO Vietnam Group got together at Gia Bac to build a classroom and a gallery in the hope of creating an educational environment for children, a place for the locals to spread and preserve the beauty of their culture. In addition, we also bring them hours of learning English in the most comfortable way as well as giving some practical gifts for the poor. We almost finished building the classroom and the gallery ( without doors). Within 10 days at Gia Bac, we accomplished our missions: 10 useful English classes in 6 days; visiting 3 poor families and giving them gifts; harvesting coffee, building 1 classroom and 1 gallery On the first day, we arrived at Gia Bac in the evening and rested that night. On the second day, we got to work immediately. We, 21 volunteers (Singaporean and EVG) were divided into 3 groups: one group for contruction tasks, one group for teaching task and the other group was in charge of domestic tasks (cooking, washing dishes and cleaning).
In addition, there was one group who was responsible for harvesting coffee, but this duty was just done in 1 day ( in the morning and in the evening) for the reason that the construction tasks were much more important. These tasks were shifted among groups in the following days. All volunteers were all enthusiastic about the brand new experiences. On the first working day, everyone was all eagerly awaited… Harvesting coffee just took place in one day, but it was warmly welcome by volunteers. Despite the swelteringly hot weather, the volunteers still did the job enthusiastically. Moreover, they had a chance to learn about the process of growing, harvesting and subjecting coffee to preliminary treatment. They paid more attention to the price as well as living standard of the farmers in this red soil. Besides, this work required some particular skills and effort. In the first stage, the volunteers were quite awkward when carrying out the job. However, the the next days, they made progress quite fast thanks to their enquring mind. They found it interesting to do the construction work, which was expected to be uninteresting and require a lot of effort. But the lessons they gained from the experience is invaluable. In some days, when there were so much work to cover, the volunteers still patiently carried on to complete the duty. In spite of the baking hot season, they still felt satisfied with their products. Teaching task, which was thought to be much easier and funnier, turned out to be no less than difficult. The difficulty lied in some naughty boys, who much preferred playing with guests to studying, while girls tended to be passive in the lessons. In the first class of class 4B, boys struggled for taking parting the games to receive gifts whereas girls were not brave enough to join though they knew the answers. Fortunately, the children were very obedient and after receiving out encouragement, everyone joined the class happily. They also joined us to dance along with some English songs. The class atmostphere became much more comfortable. Partly, our lesson target was to raise English level of children in the highland. However, another important aim was to help them become more confident in communication skills and realize the positive effect of education on the future. Overall, teaching task was highly appreciated as it brang up the outcome better than expected. Singaporean volunteers prepared carefully for the lessons to arouse the interest of their students. Furthermore, we also organized 2 more events: one library event and one night for cultural exchanges. Library event was very successful when it attracted quite a few children of Gia Bac primary school. Including both creative and physical games, library event helped create an environment for children to engage themselves in and become more active. Cultural exchange night was held at the library. There were not many guests except teachers at Gia Bac primary school and Singaporean and Vietnamese volunteers. The most attentive audiences were children and parents. Together they made a warm performance night On the last days, we organized to visit 3 poor families and gave them some meaningful and practical gifts. It was not just a simple visit, it provided us with a chance to understand more about the locals’life as well as helping us figure out what made this land be under poverty. From that point, we could contemplate more about our contribution to this beloved land. On the last night at Gia Bac, we gathered around the camp fire, together we sang and shared our thoughts. 10 days at Gia Bac had passed, we returned to HCM city. There is not a single word, but we all believe that we’ve gained a lot of precious knowledge and experience. The next destinations were the tunnels of Cu Chi, Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral, War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh market, etc… These famous places helped the Singaporean volunteers knew more about Vietnamese history and culture. The 14-day period had passed, we had to say goodbye. But what we received was the friendship, the experience from daily life at Gia Bac, and the beautiful memories we would never forget.