About the project:
- Natural Spring Water Project
- Time : 14/05/2014 – 27/05/2014
- Place: An Hiep Commune, Ba Tri District, Ben Tre Province.
- Participants: 25 students of National University of Singapore; 5 Vietnamese volunteers and others members of ECO Vietnam Group.
- Built 26 water tanks
- Installed Plasma Filtration System
- Conducted English lessons
Natural Spring Water is the first project for the year 2015, conducted in association with National University of Singapore, NUS, the official participation of 5 Vietnamese volunteers and the help of other EVG members. The aim of the project to improve the standard of living of the villagers and the children in An Hiep commune, by building water tanks, teaching English for the student in An Hiep primary school, conducting house visits for the needy and organizing Culture Night for Vietnamese team (V-team), Singapore Team (S-team), Macau Team as well as the local students and villagers.
- Activity process:
- 8.30 am, 5 Vietnamese volunteers and EVG members gathered at Tan Son Nhat airport.
- 9.15 am, V-team met and took pictures with S-team the airport.
- 9.30 am, travelled by bus to An Hiep commune
V-team and S-team at Tan Son Nhat airport.
- 30 pm, arrived to Ba Tri Town, had dinner at Ba Tri restaurant.
- 30 pm, checked-in to Phuong Nam hotel.
- 30 pm, paid a visit to An Hiep Commune’s People’s Committee.
- 30 pm, Welcome Ceremony in An Hiep Commune.
- 30 pm, went back to the hotel to rest
15/05/2015 – 24/05/2015.
Building water tank:
While this was the most important and difficult part of the job, it was also the most interesting one throughout the entire trip. Everyday, 2 teams comprising of 1 members from the V-team and 5 members from the S-team are deployed to different parts of the commune to build water tanks. Each day, a total of 4 tanks were built. Since most of us are building and casting concrete for the first time in our lives, this required us to work together closely as a team. The members of the team needed to observe and analyse the method used by the locals so that they could cast the concrete tanks in the most effiecient manner. I was sure after this project, everyone will know how to mix up a fresh batch of concrete!
Volunteers mixing concrete with spades and hoes.
As the days go by with the building water tanks gradually becoming easier, the members began to interact with the local villagers. Through their sharing, we learned more about the life in An Hiep and we also discovered the importance of building these water tanks. The water is polluted and saline and in time of drought, water becomes scarce and the locals will need to purchase water for their daily consumption and therefore it was a necessity to build these water tanks for the locals.
Each house, we built 2 water tanks next to each other.
The cover of the water tank
Installing Filter of Hope after building the water tank
After a long and hard day of working, it is always nice to unwind to some creative moments like this.
Relaxing after a hard day’s work.
We built 26 water tanks and installed Filter of Hope for 4 families. Everybody was happy and satisfied with the results. Patience, overcoming obstacles, problem solving, lending a listening ear and solidarity between volunteers are some of the important values we’ve learned throughout the entire trip.
As with the building team, there were 2 teams teaching in An Hiep primary school, each team included 1 members from the V-team and 5 members from the S-team. We spent whole day in School and taught students there also. We had 2 classes (grade 4) in the morning and 2 classes (grade 5) in the afternoon. As 11 days in An Hiep is a rather short time, we could not teach English like the school will teach them english, but instead we taught them simple sentences they could use in their daily conversations. The most important things at the end of the day was that we encouraged and inspired them to learn English. Students in An Hiep don’t have the same conductive environment to learn English like that of the students in the city We taught them instead through the application of educational games as well as the creation of simple toys. We hope that through these initiatives, they will have inspirations to learn not only English but also a lot of different things. These students were incredibly motivated to study and develop themselves, and of course lovely adolescents. Volunteers did magnificent jobs for these kids and we was grateful and glad to have a chance to contribute to this project.
Students showing their telephone made from cups all by themselves
Volunteers and students after class
Students now know some simple English words and sentences that they can use to communicate with one another. They can also make some toys by themselves and learned how to play some games. The most important thing was that they grew to like learning English through those activities. We had happy and relaxing together. Kids liked volunteers very much. They gave a lot of gifts to volunteers and always stayed behind after school to play with us. Sweet memories were made with kids of An Hiep Primary School.
This was done by a team which consisted of 1 member from the V-team and 5 members from the S-team and the team will be rotated every day so that to ensure that everyone will get a chance do at least one of each type of. All we had to do was set up the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, wash the dishes, clean the sleeping place and toilet twice a day. We also helped the cook prepare the food, dessert, replace the garbage bags around the house, the school compound and library.
S-team was not used to washing dishes or cleaning, so the housework tool quite a lot of effort to be completed during the first few days. Later, when we got used to all the cleaning, we cooperated and did it more efficiently. We will also never forget “mama” and “mami”, the two ladies who always smiled, were humorous and cooked us a lot of delicious food. She was liked our mother.
Housework team is washing dishes
All the housework was done with dedication and willingness to cooperate. We also knew more about each other through stories shared as we did all these work.
Install Plasma Filtration System
We all know that An Hiep commune lacks a source of clean water. Therefore, project 1501 installed a Plasma Filtration System in conjunction with UTE for An Hiep Primary School.
Volunteers are installing Plasma System
The Plasma Filtration System was successfully installed in An Hiep Primary School where the students can have access to clean water for drinking.
Volunteers spent one morning visiting the cow farm and helped the locals feed the cows. Despite the sunny weather and the fact that everyone got sunburn, the volunteers showed their teamwork and spirit regardless.
We knew how the cow farm worked and how difficult it is to farm on a daily basis; from harvesting grasses, bringing grasses on to the boat to feeding the cow. While everyone got sunburn, the more important thing to take note was to never take our food for granted having seen how hard it is to produce food in a farm.
Volunteers are bringing grasses for cows
Visiting poor families
Volunteers visiting a poor family in An Hiep Commune
In Day 2 of the project, we divided group into 2 teams and visited 5 poor families in An Hiep commune. We prepared some gifts for them like rice, sugar, salt, milk and cooking oil. While they were not really valuable gifts, they appreciated just as much because these items were things that they need in their lives and yet have little to no means to obtaining them. We went to their house, talked to them, heard the stories of their lives and encouraged them to overcome these adversities.
Through stories about their lives, we knew more about An Hiep Commune and the people here. Most of them haven’t had a job or a low paying job. Therefore, we decided to come back here one day and try to conceive a solution that will bring these people greater opportunities.
The culture night was held in An Hiep Primary School on 22nd May from 7pm to 9.30pm. Performances in Culture Night were contributed not only by S-team, V-team but also by students from University of Macau, Hong Kong (Project S1). This was an opportunity for volunteers know more about locals and the culture here. This also was the chance to exchange between Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Culture Night with S-tem, V-team and Macau team
Campfire in Culture Night
The performances occurred in a warm and friendly atmosphere with a lot of laughter. After all the performances, we had campfire. It did not matter if you was Vietnamese, Singaporean or from Hong Kong, everyone went singing and dancing around the campfire . This was a night to remember for all of us. It also remarked the near-completion of the project.
- Thoughts about the project
Thought of Khue, Vietnamese volunteer of ECO Vietnam Group:
The memories in An Hiep commune will not be definitely forgotten by me. This project brought to us – V-team and Steam that wonderful lessons. We built water tanks, cooked the meal, taught English for children. Not only we taught, also we learnt from them how to laugh and the way made our own life happier.
The culture night made us get closer. We danced, sang together with music that came from different countries, we also danced around the fire.
We will not forget…
The meals were covered by laughs and funny saying “ moi an com” from Singaporean friends,
The sweats, the laughs after building times,
The students spoke louder when they have been learnt a new lesson,
The jokes of “mama” made us happier,
We worked together as a big team on the field,
The sugarcane glasses, coconut juice that we got them from households, the coffee cups helped us stay up to confess everything after a hard working day,
The time we took care each other, the angels fed us watermelons,
The dances, funny games,
We gave the note papers each other with gifts,
And other things… I can not tell….
I would like to say thank you so much to EVG that have brought us together, gave us experiences. Also, I want to say thank you good-hearted and simple-minded residents in An Hiep commune and good friends who come from Singapore, I have learnt many things from them. I feel proud of myself and did a meaningful thing for the last days of 20 and to prove : Life is adventures.
Thought of Sang, Vietnamese volunteer of ECO Vietnam Group:
First of all, I would like to say thank to EVG/ EVG staff ( Mr Harry, Mr Han, Ms.Yen, Ms. Duyen, Ms Dung..) V-team ( Diem, Thuong, Thuy, Khue, Ms.Linh) and specially S-team for not only making a considerable change in myself but creating unforgettable memories which will stay deep in my heart during 2 weeks.
Initially, as regards EGV and EVG Staff. EVG did make an amazing bridge between international students and Vietnamese people, between boring theories and vivid field trip. Simply because fortunately, EVG has young, wild and free people, who always try their best to finish their job with love and passion. Project 1501 was really lucky when be supported by Ms Yen and Mr Han- who have to wake up earlier, deal with many issues more than other.
Besides, It is V-team, I’m truly glad to know all of you. Thank to meetings, reflection, preparing days.. They helped us from strangers who have no idea or even have negative feelings about each other to getting closer. During this project, perhaps I cannot count how many times we have to tackle difficulties. However, by your supports, encouragements which made our project finish successfully.
I have to thank S-team again, you are adorable, big-hearted people. I know that in order to take part in project OceaNUS, you must give up, miss crucial things in your life, but you finally decided to go to Vietnam. I also heard that all of you did prepare 10 months before for only 2 weeks in Vietnam. Designing and selling T-shirt, washing cars..made me more appreciate you. Hope that you gained abundance experience, learned loads of skills which will certainly help you in your future.
About myself, through project 1501, I realize that I eventually received too much more than what I expected. First, I made friends with a bunch of new great people( S-team, V-team, EVG staff..), who I am able to study many amazing unlearnt lessons from, as well as sincerely helped me when I needed the help. This is a wonderful experience which I think I will not have second chance to try such as shouting before having meals, dance crazily in Culture Night, Cleaning toilets with unbearable smell..Somehow, It changed my ways of looking at life, human surrounding. Absolutely I am the young generation, therefore devoting energy, time, attention to needy community seems to be a must.
2 weeks with all of you guys will be precious and memorable time in my entire life.
Thought of Thuong, Vietnamese volunteer of ECO Vietnam Group:
Natural Spring Water isn’t my first community service project, thus in my first thought about this project I reckoned that I’ll not run into difficulties with it. From the first days, the preparation planned carefully, clearly and precisely make me recognize that it is familiar with other projects and I must give it my best shot. This program not only contributes to community in need, but also helps yourself learn the practical applications, therefore I always set my goal clearly to develop myself. The first thing impressed me is the aim of this project which is long term support for communities, that teach me that if I want to have a sustained result, I must invest in long-term.
On that days I worked in An Hiep commune, I experienced the hard life that lack of water in hot weather in many consecutive months, some household don’t have enough money to raise a living, let alone buy water that cost a much money. The first days in An Hiep commune really challenge me, I faced the fast work pace and the heavy burden, but day by day when I got used to it, everything became easy.
Through reflection, I realize that make me grow up every single day by evaluating my behaviour and learning from my partner. Not only I was taught how to scientific work and team work skill from V-team. From S- team I also learnt the efficient and serious way in working as well as energetic and enthusiastic way in outdoor activities that made me revise when I felt exhausted after working day.
When this project comes to end, we look back at all team achievement, but all of it doesn’t live up to us expectation, because we think we can do more than that. Hope that the next projects will always success and bring community power to change An Hiep commune.
Thought of Diem, Vietnamese volunteer of ECO Vietnam Group:
Our project went to the end but our friendship still continue. 11 days in An Hiep commune help us know more about the local people, the culture and the important of clean water system here. I will never forget things happened in this project.
I miss mama and mami, who cooked delicious meals for us.
I miss every time we were on the farm truck to the place we built water tank.
I miss flame trees in An Hiep school, and we made butterfly from them.
I miss cute students there, they always wanted to play Bang bang game
I miss coconut juice that the local always gave to us every time we build
I miss NUS students, they were an important part that made this trip happen. They’re friendly, enthusiastic, work hard and play harder. And 25 members in S-team will be in my mind, forever.
I miss V-team, we prepared everything together. Sometimes, we faced to difficult problems, we argued to each other, but we tried to solve and help others overcome any trouble.
I don’t know if we have a chance to meet all members again but I will keep all little things in my mind..
“Alone you can do so little, together we can do so much”