Name: ON OUR WAY
Time: 22/05/2016 – 04/06/2016.
Location: Phong Phú Commune, Cầu Kè District, Trà Vinh Province.
Participants: 4 Vietnamese volunteers along with 25 Singapore volunteers (10 males and 15 females), a profestion and 2 staffs from Nanyang Technological University.
ON OUR WAY project belongs to the chain of 6 projects of ECO Vietnam Group in which biogas system is recommended to use. Based on benefits of biogas system, the projects are born with the expectation of reducing environmental pollution caused by the untreated cattles’ waste in poor communities.
+ Finished 5 biogas systems.
+Taught English for local primary school’s kids.
+Visited and gave gifts to 4 poor households.
+ Organized a carnival for Phong Phú’s children.
The First 3 days:
The morning of 22/05/2016, the Vietnamese volunteers along with Mr. Harry (president of EVG) and Kha Nhi (project manager) gathered at Tan Son Nhat International Airport to greet the Singaporean volunteers from NTU. Despite the unfamiliarity at first, everyone was quick and happy to mark the first moments of the project with group photos. And we have started a trip promising to bring interesting experiences and filled with emotion.
The group then departed for Tra Vinh City. The two sets of volunteers from Vietnam and Singapore had some initial interactions on the bus and during meal time at noon.
At 4pm we arrived Phong Phú commune, everyone unloaded belonging and logistic then set up living space.
The work days in Phong Phú:
23/05/2016, we got down on business. Thanks to careful preparation of V-team,S- team and EVG, our work started smoothly. Stimultaneous with the main tasks, we also had leisure activities, played and became familiar with life as well as people in Phong Phu. Our story would not be started and completed without the cooperation and cohesion of the team members as well as the help of the locals.
In the early days, construction was really difficult and challenged for both the S-team and V- team since no one had experience or technical skills of installation biogas bag.
However, with the enthusiasm and concentration, we took the job quickly then shared with other members what we have learned as well as the difficulties we met in the working process. We felt very fortunate to be accompanied by S- team who always tried their best to work hard and put the common interest above the personal fears.
We also felt grateful because of care and being more than happy to help of households such as: preparing fruits, beverages and lending necessary tools.
Thanks to the tireless support from a engineer, we were able to improve day by day. We knew how to dig a hole, bail water out, mix the cement, constructure brick, install a biogas bag.
Futhermore, we learned the way to work together effectively like working on production line by transporting bricks, stones, sand to where they were needed and shared with each other members healthy problems, encouraged each other to overcome difficulties: thereby strengthening the bonds between two teams. Although we only completed 5/8 of the planned biogas bags, they were the tireless efforts of all volunteers and we felt grateful for the results that we achieve.
Teaching was also another interesting work during our days in Phong Phu commune. From the beginning, we have felt the extremely careful and thoughtful preparation of S team.
They put a lot of enthusiasm for each lesson, not only could children learn English, but also got to play games and made stuff for study or toys by their own creativety thanks to volunteers’ instruction.
However, we also found out difficulties of language barrier that S team encountered in the teaching process. Both S-team and V-team got together to discuss and provide effective teaching methods to solve this problem.
After that, members of S-team gradually control the class, teaching became easier and lessons became more appealing. We felt touched on an extremely shy girl, but through the process of learning and in the last class, she opened up her heart, laughed so much and expressed her feelings with us.This is the success that S- team and V- team achieved during 2 weeks. It is neither short nor long period but full of effort and hard work. At least we had instilled the interest of learning English to the kids.
Along with construction and teaching, housework was an opportunity to connect all members of two teams. We had time to understand each other more when we cleaned the toilets, moped the floor and prepared for meal. V team has shared skills of housework and helped S team get use to those works quickly. They experienced a lot of new things that may be they encountered the first time in their lives.
Outside the primary works, the volunteers also had household visiting sessions, during which the talks with the locals gave many insights into the daily life here in Phong Thanh: from the concerns, difficulties to the optimism and positive view of life of the locals. There were tears in small ramshackle houses where the only inhabitants were the elderly and kids… Those memories were unforgettable and really drove us to rethink about our lives and what we could do to change the lives of those who need help.
Culture Night was the night of performances from the locals, EVG and also the Singaporean volunteers. The participation of many people helped make a night with different emotions and feelings: excitement with the locals’ performances, the performances full of cultural uniqueness from all the Singaporean volunteers really caught the audience with awe, and the performances of EVG volunteers brought a strong Vietnamese flavor to the night. All the emotions and feelings were transfused to the campfire; the light of which reflected back on all the things and memories we had had in Phong Phú, and also shone the way to a hopeful future with all the projects to come. And Culture night ended with a warm reflection of all members of S-team and V- team.
….and many more anonymous memories. . The 14 days of ON OUR WAY project has been filled with impressions, memories and experiences that are truly memorable. All the Vietnamese volunteers have moved closer together through all the hard works and reflections; through all the disagreements and tough times. We worked as a team and grew up as a team. Though we have left Phong Phu, all the love and sharing, all the friendship and compassion stay here, deeply in our hearts and souls.
Reflection of V-team
Before the project started, we had to study, work as well as make a plan for this project.We felt so tired that we want to give up from time to time, but we always received encouragement and support from project managers (Kha Nhi) and other members of EVG. On the final report, all of us felt very worried in spire of careful preparation, but it’s hard to imagine how practically. Therefore, we would like to thank to Ms Yến (vice president of EVG) because of her encouragement, useful advices, professional attitude that helped us more confident to start the trip.
Sometimes, because of heavy workload everyone was under pressure. Fortunately, Mr Harry (president of EVG) and ms Vy (project manager) always showed up on time and gave us encouragement regardless of their being busy. We would like to express thanks and appreciation to Ms Vy and Mr Harry, we would not accomplish the personal goals as well as the general goal of project without their help.
From 14 days of doing volunteer service in Phong Phu, we had some meaningful time with S-team. Overcoming differences in culture and language barrier, we have no S-team and V-team any more, but we became friends. Each of us have matured after the trip.
All of us, EVG and volunteers tried our best to overcome difficulties, our commitment has contributed greatly to the project, which is expressed through the achievements were small but very worthwhile. We know that our trip was over, everyone has their own intentions, but after all, surely everyone has distilled lessons for yourself. Thank ECO Vietnam Group has created a meaningful project and gave us great opportunity to gain valuable experience.