- About the project:
- DAYLIGT Project
- Time : 2/1/2016-14/1/2016
- Place : Phong Thạnh Commune, Cầu Kè District, Trà Vinh Province
- Participants: 20 students of Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and 5Vietnamese volunteers (including 2 EVG members)
+ Complete part of community library and toilet
+ English teaching for local children
+ 32 solar lamp-streets
Daylight is the second project at Phong Thanh Commune but it is newly performed and worked under connections between Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and ECO Vietnam Group to build up Community Volunteer Center. Most of the students enrolling in this project have different educational background but they had tried their best to complete tasks with all their heart’s content. The main focus for Daylight project is to develop vital facilities as well as construction works around community library. Furthermore, there are chances for students to practicing English teaching methods in primary level and conversely treating children well with better education and new teaching technologies. During 14 days of the project, 20 students from SUTD, the official participation of 5 Vietnamese volunteers and the support of 2 EVG members has come and worked in their high sense of responsibility and willingness to fully help unfortunate people and experience their own youth time in Vietnam rural area.
The main activities of this project include: be supportive of helping workers to complete library toilet, teach English at Phong Thanh A Primary School, do housework everyday, organize Cultural Exchange and Culture Night with local residents.
- Activity process:
- 8.00 am, 5 Vietnamese volunteers with Harry (EVG’s president) gathered at Tan Son Nhat airport.
- 9.00 am, Vietnamese team met and took picture with Singaporean volunteers at the airport. After official greetings, we took the tour bus and went straight to Tra Vinh province.
- 12.00 am, had lunch at Minh Tam
- 2.00 pm, we arrived at Phong Thanh Commune.
- 2.15 pm, we started to clear up dust and sand in many rooms before staying here for nearly 12 days and shared rooms with another team – 1601, who also comes from SUTD.
- 5.30 pm, dinner time and tidying the kitchen and washing dish.
- 8.30 pm, bathing and resting time.
- 7.30 am: we ate breakfast and after that set up Welcome Ceremony at People’s Committees Center in Phong Thanh Commune.
- 8.00 am to 9.00 am: Welcome Ceremony was taken place.
- 9.00 to 10.00 am: SUTD students were divided into two groups to pay a visit to 4 local households. Staple food were brought along with the group to give to these poor people. Apart from this, teams and local residents had a chance to know each other.
- About 15.00 pm, after bonding games between V-team and Sing-team, all members of the Daylight project had joint working with 1601 project to help pack up all of wooden-related bars, water bottles and tools for house construction to community library and took team photo.
4/1/2016 – 13/1/2016:
The main jobs in 9 days here were: continue building and completing the toilet, teaching local children English (grade 4 and 5), solar street-lamp construction, doing housework and running Culture Night with local residents.
- Teaching English for local children
We have English teaching lessons everyday from Monday to Friday, one class in the morning and one in the afternoon, each lasts for about two hours. We had indoors and outdoors activities based on lesson plans prepared a day before coming to class. Through different simple lessons about English language studies, we provide local kids to adapt new teaching methods used commonly nowadays, namely communication skills, team working skills, leadership, etc. After daily lessons, we all gathered the kids together to review what they had learnt and most remembered importantly and then game play began. We all hopefully expected the lessons we had given to them would lay something foundation to shape their bright future of their study and own personality.
Teaching with kids bring out a lot of joyful and happy moments when we could revive our naïve instinct from childhood back to life. Observing those innocent eyes we caught when standing on the platform and pose our pictures about particular topics. Not only that, we also surprised about the way they acted. Noisy as they were, they were very well-behaved when we teachers told them to be quiet and students from SUTD were very willing to spend their time to play with them and speak some Vietnamese just to make them laugh.
Teaching somehow could become barriers for us to get through, on the other hand. There are some assumptions that we never got in touch so close with these kids when we were in the commune, but it turns out that everything worked well with this. The main problems would lie on lesson plans because we always wondered whether the lessons would help children and they could easily understand what we meant. Sometimes the reality was not as we had expected, especially combining games after each part of lessons. Sometimes we felt discouraged and worried before going to class because we were afraid of that children felt bored and refused to be present in our class. However, later on we were fine because the kids always were right in the class and things were ready when we got to school. The thing is in each day we went to class, we encountered new faces among those present and stayed close to class time and then again we had to review carefully and considerately about the previous lessons. We did try our best to bring good knowledge about daily lives and English study for all the kids we had taught because we wanted to captured every best moment with them.
Result : We always made sure that the lessons must be repeatedly taught so that the children grade 4 and 5 would remember most of the lesson part specializing in colors, subjects, morality and discipline and the habits of acting orderly in certain group or community, how to use technological computers, how to tie shoelaces in sequence and etc. The happiest thing is that they day by day have improved themselves and pushed themselves to be confident in making short conversation in English. Moreover, we are closer with the kids, not only in class, but also in extra hours besides class like Culture Night and Tour Visit to some famous places near our accommodation. Although grade 4 found the lessons hard to catch up but they were on high focus and eager to try everything just to improve their English skills. Teaching seems to not be so hard as other tasks we have to accomplish in the commune mainly due to the laugh we got when teaching and playing with kids. They were welcome us very sincerely without any manipulations and they shines our project to be more significant and cheerful.
- Toilet construction
We built toilet next to community library. Thanks to masons and a 12 year-old boy, every work we did was smooth and nothing had serious damages. The brick foundation of the toilet had already done before we walked there and see. Our mission at that time was to complete these responsibilities: mix mortar, overlap bricks to build a square shape for the restroom and put ceramic tiles on the wall.
Mixing cements were never easy and required lots of efforts, especially for those who did not try it before, but it was worth a try. It is interesting to combine all the materials including cement, sand and water and stir all together in a hole under the appropriate proportion the mason told us. During the first day of the project, it would not be easy to fill out the tasks of sweated working, but we still got over it after the next few days. We even surprised a couple of days later because we did all the constructing stuffs ahead of time without any flaws.
During the work, we cannot forget all the enthusiasm of all male volunteers, who was in charge of bringing all needy tools, from cement, brisk to water. Sometimes they were quick, sometimes they were slow, but they all met our demand when we needed.
The final stage is to mix ceramic brick to the wall and one of female member did a great job and even more dedicating than the male ones.
Assuming that we got used to construction so fast, we did our best to finish and switch to help solar street-lamp team.
Results: We complete 90% the toilet and we were there standing in front of our achievements with joyfulness and pride. After the trip, we acknowledged that working as a mason is not easy at all, but we still broke out our limits to complete the toilet construction in the best way as we could. We were also proud that we were close together to solve the problems and language and cultural barriers to unite to work for the community.
Thank you the builders so much for helping, teaching and supporting us day by day, despite all our clumsiness and recklessness.
- Solar street-lamp construction
The installation looked really difficult when first encountered but the work was actually not hard as many of us thought before if we could understand and apply its principles of operation in a proper way. SUTD students are experts of these and were willing to give some instructions to Vietnamese volunteers. It did not require lots of muscles to complete 36 streetlamps but to make the tasks smooth, we would need to be patient and careful about what we did and the installation to link pipes, electricity wires and solar panels. The preparation was the most important part because we have to make sure that the utilities fitted together in the exact proportion, but we could not deny that the reality did not happen like the way we thought it would be. We faced few problems during the setting, which were the insufficiency of installing tools and materials, street-lamps malfunction and foundation for streetlamps. On finishing the streetlamps, we acknowledge some of our drawbacks in our preparation sections and immediately fixed them as soon as possible. We one more time needed the supports from the masons and we were grateful that they always were there when we were in troubles. Things have done after all and we one more time stood together to enjoy what we achieved. It is expected that all these lamps would alternate all expensive and wasting conventional energy and protect the environment.
Results: there are completed 36 streetlamps in total located around library community. These lamps would provide more additional and conditional to improve quality of living in the commune as well as the library. As we said streetlamps improving the commune because towards the streetlamp installation, local people would see its benefits and gradually use this renewable energy equipment as an alternative of conventional electricity equipment.
This was done by a team included 4 to 5 Singaporean volunteers and 1 Vietnamese volunteer, we changed the team doing housework everyday so that they could try other work too. Because we cooperated with the other project 1601 so we have lots of human resources to make household chores effortless. However, we still had to cope with problems such as mosquitoes, excessive dishes everyday. All we had to do is: set up the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, wash dishes, clean the sleeping place and toilet once a day. Moreover, we also helped the cook prepare the food, dessert, sweep the school yard, replace the garbage bags and take the garbage around the school.
All the logistics needed were well-provided by ECO Vietnam Group and local government. The works were divided to the teams very clearly. But the S-team was not used to washing dishes or cleaning stuffs, so the housework did not bring the best results in some first days, especially in the very first day. Later, when we got used to the cleaning work, we cooperated and did it more efficiently. The living and activity environment were clean and met the requirements.
Results: All housework was done with high responsibility and willingness to cooperate.
The Culture Night was on stage from 6h30 pm to 8h00pm, and then Camp Fire till 9h30, with the attendance of Vice President of Phong Thanh Commune, Representatives of ECO Vietnam Group, local residents ( especially cute kids), V Team and S Team.
We had performances of local police, the children, V-Team, S-team, a Vietnamese traditional dancing performance of both team. We danced various types including group singing, flash-mob and acoustic playing.
Camp Fire was organized with enthusiasm and enjoyment of all people attended. We danced and played together in a warm and joyful atmosphere.
We ended the event with a mini game for the kids, then gave gifts to them.
Result: The performances occurred in a warm and friendly atmosphere with a lot of laughs. All the kids and the people came and enjoyed the show and the Camp Fire. All the kids were given gifts. Security was well controlled. We all had a successful night.
- Thoughts about the project
Thought of Tri, Vietnamese volunteer of ECO Vietnam Group:
EVG 1602 PROJECT “DAYLIGHT”
Feelings after project 8:00 pm, Nov 6th 2015, feelings of confusion, hesitation with a bit of hope, desire; and I decided to register for the project. It was not a hard task to fill in that form, but I had to be careful because I got rejected last time. Days passed, I got the result of the application form round with happy, and it was much happier when I also got through the interview round. Tri the Great was the chosen one.
Prepared for the project …
Ran the project
During that whole time, I received many complaints, kicks as to my way of working, attitude under the title of ‘leader’ (I know the reasons for such things happened). With my point of view of an open, liberal one, I accepted my mistakes but… not yet change. Memorized it, but… left it there, deal with it later.
And it came to an end of the project, leaving a mass mess in my mind. There were joy, happiness, sadness, inferiority; having no idea where to start, unknowing which one to solve first, I chose to… go to… sleep.
I have few friends, whenever and wherever I met them, I talked to them about my journey with a proud attitude, a bit arrogant: it was so meaningful, helpful,… but in my mind, angrily thought ‘how come I know it was such that perfect when I don’t even think about it?’
A place where the cool wind blows gently, the green grass blended with faded yellow grass covers all around, a place which are spacy enough, airy enough in the center of Sai Gon, perhaps there is only this place. Feeling exhausted after running more than three kilometers.
Poch! I sat down. “hey, feel easy, slowly, take a deep breath! What should I do now? Yes, let’s think of what I have learnt after a tiring month of preparation and two hard weeks of running for the project in the mosquito-covered area.”
And, I realized many, many things that turned me to be felt inferior to everything around. But I made up my mind shortly after that and decided to change step by step.
About my teammates, I met them there, each person with individual style, individual way of thinking,… with desire and passion to grow higher, better. I felt so lucky because I have understood and learned from my friends in many aspects: character, thoughts,… Thank you a lot!
I have some close friends. Oh gosh! I can’t stop talking when meeting them. They asked me about my trip to Tra Vinh province. With confidence and pride, I did share what I had been through, lessons I had learned and tell them about people whom I had met…
That’s it! Time passes, I’m still heading forward to my idol, finding new challenges.
“Gold is just in your way, feel to find it”
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But not end of life! Keep moving forward! And you’ll see!