Project 1604 : “BE A CHANGE”
Project: BE A CHANGE
Time : 09/05/2016 – 23/05/2016
Location : Phong Phú commune, Cầu Kè district, Trà Vinh province.
Participants: 25 students from Nanyang Technological University – Hall 8 and 6 Vietnamese volunteers (including 1 EVG member).
+ Installing 5 biogas systems for 5 different households
+ Teaching English and personal hygiene for students from Phong Phú A primary school.
+ Doing house work
BE A CHANGE is a community project in Phong Phu commune with the participation of 25 students from Nanyang Technological University – Hall 8 and 5 Vietnamese volunteers and 1 ECO Vietnam Group member.
Main activities during the project are: Welcoming foreign students, leaving to Phong Phu commune, setting up living area, conducting welcome ceremony, taking part in bonding games, teaching English, installing biogas systems, doing housework, fishing, exchanging sport activity with locals, visiting underprivileged households, organsing culture night.
The first 3 days:
Afternoon 09/05/2016, 5 Vietnamese volunteers, Khuê (EVG member), and Harry (Founder of EVG) were at the airport to welcome all Singaporean students from Nanyang technological University – Hall 8. We took pictures and had our first meal together.
Day 10/05/2016, on the way to Phong Phu commune, we had another chance to talk with other team, play some bus activities. Our first lunch together was in Phong Phu.
After lunch, we started to setting up our living area. Although it was a bit messy, everyone did their best to make it on time. The welcome ceremony was conducted in a friendly way.
Bonding games after that also gave us a chance to get to know each other.
Day 11/05/2016 we got started by participating in the first main activity, teaching English. The first session was very interesting and exciting for all students. After noticing that there were some mistake, we made a short brief and the second session that afternoon was smoother. Later that day, we had our first joint reflection to discuss and prepare for the following day.
Normal working days in Phong Phu:
Teaching is the first and the most memorable activity of this voluntary project. During 3 days, knowledge was imparted to the children little by little. Moreover, with the combination of playing and studying, volunteers have created in them interests and motivations toward studying English. Our passions and endeavors in teaching have helped to form a strong bond with local students. Because of that, the moment of saying good bye in the last day was very sad and touching.
Following the teaching activity, volunteers started to install Biogas bags for each registered households. In this section, we encountered a lot of obstacles, both internal and external challenges. Undergoing difficulties made us grow up day by day. We obtained new knowledge about Biogas construction, get new experience when building gas pits or digging holes in different terrains and honing problem-solving skills when unexpected incidents happened. Besides, teamwork not only taught us how to take care of each other, but also reflected our own weaknesses and the way to cross them out. Although we have not finished our goals (5 bags out of 8 bags) , we were satisfied with our achievements and glad with what we have learned and experienced
Beside two main activities like teaching and construction work, housework team did play an important role during the whole project. We tidied up commune and prepare meals for our teammates. The moment we shared household chores with each other or gather together to play Singaporean games and tell stories, we were closed as best friends
In this trip, volunteers also got a chance to visit Khmer inhabitants. Through some conversations with them, we understood how difficult their life is. More than that, we appreciated our current life more and our responsibility to community was raised as well.
Thank to the wholehearted support from the commune and the well-preparation of each team, Culture night was successfully organized with diverse performances such as Vietnamese fork dance, Khmer traditional dances and songs and Singapore National song and modern dance. All of them presented distinct culture and identity of each country, which made their audiences emerge in a multi-cultural environment with cheerfulness and excitement. Campfire even added more fun to the night show. Freestyle dancing with lively music created an ever joyful atmosphere in the serene commune
Catching fish in the swamp is a very funny part, especially when the whole team surrounding or running after a fish
In the sport exchange day, the competition between volunteers and local polices turned out to be a practice match since no one in the voluntary team could play volleyball well and the polices had to divide their teammates equally into two groups. Such an embarrassing experience!
In a day of visiting Khmer Pagoda, we gained a number of useful and interesting information such as the meaning of Thala flowers and its medical function, the meaning of four faces statue and what people worship in each separated temple. All of this information was presented by one of the policemen in the commune. He not only escorted us to reach that place safely but also became our tour guide in that morning
R&R activities in Ho Chi Minh city:
Visiting War Remnants Museum
Hanging around Ben Thanh night market
Visiting Cu Chi Tunnel
Time flies and “Be a Change” project has ended already. However, what we have experienced in this trip will never fade away and would become valuable lesson for us to grow up.
What I appreciated most when joining this voluntary project is that I could realize my weaknesses and the way to cross it out. Because of being passive, reserved and lack of confidence, I seldom contributed ideas in each meeting and when problem happened, I didn’t know how to solve it and hesitated in making decisions. Thanks to the honest feedback of V-team members in reflection night, I began to aware of my demerit and attempt to improve it.
What surprised me most was the formation of friendship with S-team. I have never thought that in such a short time, I could become that closed with them. Their care, encouragement, and helpfulness as well as familiar mother-tongue-Mandarin not only broke the ice between us but also helped a bashful me become more sociable. The moment we played games and talked together or the memorable culture night will sometimes float over my mind with nostalgic feeling.
During the trip, the image deeply imprinted on my mind was Phong Phu commune – a place suffers from poor living conditions but still fills with human touch. 14 days have passed quickly but meaningfully. This is truly a challenging and interesting voluntary trip. I sincerely thank Eco Vietnam group for offering me this eye-opening opportunity.
It is well known that the use of money and material in the purpose of helping and enhancing people’ lives will only solve the problem superficially and create short term happiness. Besides, it impetes the process of the project impact to people who deserve the assistance from being measured accurately. Meanwhile, with Service Learning, you put yourself in the shoes of the community to serve them, to learn from them in order to bring long-term results for both parties. This project is only a small part in a long chain of projects to improve the awareness of local people about the environment issues and provide sustainable development. During the project, I felt that the attention of local residents on those acute problems has slightly changed in a positive way. I myself have learn a lot being resolved difficulties occurred in the project and receiving sincere feedback from all members. I wholeheartedly hope the upcoming projects will be more successful, get more interest from both local and the young.