About the project :
- Project: “AT OUR BEST”
- Time : 04 June – 18 June, 2016
- Location : Phong Phú Commune, Cầu Kè District, Trà Vinh Province
- Participants: 25 students from Singapore Nanyang Technological University (NTU); 3 volunteers and other members from ECO Vietnam Group.
- Achievements :
- Installation of 5 HDPE bags for biogas systems
- Visitation of 8 households
- Teaching English to primary school students
- Join Handover Ceremony
“AT OUR BEST” is the 11th project of ECO Vietnam Group in 2016, with collaboration with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Hall 11, 3 volunteers officially with the help of members from ECO Vietnam Group. The purpose of the project is to improve living conditions, environment, people and children in Phong Phu Commune by the installation of biogas bags, teaching English to elementary school students in Phong Phu A primary school, visit households, organize of cultural exchanges between Vietnam, Singapore and the people, local children in the commune as well as to join Handover Ceremony – The Summary Ceremony of 6 projects ( installing biogas systems) between ECO Vietnam Group and Nanyang Technological University in this summer in Tra Vinh Province.
4 June 2016 : All members of the EVG team presented at the airport to welcome the students of Nanyang Technological University Hall 11 from Singapore to start journey.
EVG team welcomed the students of Nanyang Technological University at the airport..
5 June 2016 : The group moved to the Phong Phu commune, Cau Ke district, Tra Vinh province.
Although the first day at the commune was new to us, all of us were ready for what awaits us, we just needed to apply all the best for the commune that we would live here for 2 weeks.
Welcome ceremony was held with an atmosphere of joy and exhilaration. Representatives of the parties consist of the Chairman of Phong Phu commune, representatives from the ECO Vietnam Group, the volunteers of both teams – EVG team and Singaporean team. The representatives had the welcome speech and shared the hopes, waiting for such a successful project and the most unforgetable memories.
The representatives gave each others souvenirs in the Welcome Ceremony
The main purpose of the project is to improve daily life for the people in the commune, partialy renovate the surrounding environment, teach English, help children find joy and excited in learning, as well as to understand the casual lifestyle of local people in West of Southern of Vietnam. The important point is to broaden our minds and love the Vietnam.
Construction team :
Since that was our first time in Phong Phu Commune, we were like fish out of water. Talking to some households and the economic of local people, we understand the true value and continue to find the best way suited to the lifestyle in the commune. For many households having farms, this is the main economic source of the whole family, but the process and make use of waste from livestock still simple, people know how to use them methods to make use of energy but the result is inefficient and cause polluted to the environment. With the technology using HDPE bag in order to provide gas for household cooking, this is one of the tasks that we spend a lot of dedication and effort to complete biogas bags in order for them to use gas for daily activities.
With the guidance of Uncle Thanh,
we could installed the biogas bags by ourselves.
Installing bagy requires meticulous and highly accurate. A biogas bag be used efficiently or not is largely based on this task. With fully preparation of working tools and personal protective equipment, we watched every step and movement of Uncle Thanh – who has much experience in many projects of ECO Vietnam Group, and listen to his notice during installing the bags. We learnt how to tighten the screws, to place the tube inside and outside the bag in order that the air will not come out, how to deal with the mistakes when installing or to adjust the tube if the air comes out. We had tried to learn and apply for those days later which we became more skillful.
One of the work that requires turn-taking: it is digging. Firstly, we try to know the condition of the area, and focus on digging under the guidance and help of the household. Despite hard conditions of the area or dangerous while working, we still tried our best to finish the target at the beginning. If the hole is not completed correctly, the implement of the biogas bad will not meet the requirements, and will take more time and work to re-correct the hole. Trying to make clear everything at the beginning, we, day by day, completed our work faster than those first days.
For this work, it is similar to dig the soil, the difference is to dig the soil into several bags, not just make a hole. Digging and moving 30 soil bags (for one household) is not easy as pie which we need to work as an effectively team and conserve our strength for the next days. After tying the soil bags, we would use those soil bags after placing the biogas bag in order to hold the input and output of the biogas bag. Furthermore, those are used to avoid the floating bag when the flood season comes as well as to fix the input and output so as to avoid the air will come out.
This is an essential part of the process of installation biogas system: built soakage pit – requires a lot of ingenuity, scattered from us. This is where the waste or water go inside the bag, creating gas or not, this stage is the most important. We mixed the sand, cement and water into a mixture with a suitable ratio to built the solidly pit so á to prevent the water inside. Once completed, connect a hose to a gas pipeline directly into the house to use.
This biogas bag had been completely installed and placed into a pit. This process requires accurately measuring or adjusting the biogas system.
Result: with the continuous efforts, we have successfully installed 5 biogas systems. Also, to learn more about the use of energy or fuel for everyday life, we also carried out survey in each household where we installed the system, spent time to talk and find out the living condition as well as understand the culture of this commune. This was valuable time for not only EVG team but also Singapore team that brought us together with local people.
The purpose this project is also to educate basic knowledge of English, science, art and craft as well as dancing and singing songs. We would like to spread out the knowledge, interesting games and experiements so that the children in Phong Phu commune could have new perspectives in learning English, elicit their imagination, and be more active. Moreover, we have also learned a lot of things from kids, folk games, Khmer language and known their family situation.
“What time is it?”
These kid used those sticks to make their own pencil holders.
They learnt English songs and simple dance.
Playing the game: Eagle catch chicks.
Although everyone was tired after playing games, we still smiled.
Kết quả: We finally tought them the English lessons that we had planned, played interesting games, recapped the knowledge and especially always cherished the moments we were with the children.
House-keeping team: besides construction and teaching, we also had a hard working team in order to prepare meals, wash dishes, clean sleeping rooms, clean toilets. Our chef were Ms Ly, and her family who cooked for us delicious meals. After tiring working day, we really enjoy the food as well as atmosphere is always filled with jokes and laughs.
We, together took photo with Auntie Ly after the meal.
Visiting households : We visited 8 households in the first day and last day when we stayed in the commune. We came to their house, talked to them and understood their living condition, health and the difficulties they are facing. We also had small gifts for help them somehow overcome the difficulties ahead.
A “trip” to paddy field : Our way to discover Phong Phu is also to walk around the commune, especially the paddy field and the orange garden around the place. After a hard-working week, we spent our morning of the weekend to visit those field that was just seeding. We also found a duck farm that everyone was so excited.
We finally found the shade while working through the paddy field.
Sport Exchange with local youth :
On weekends we had sport exchange between volunteers and youths from the commune which was volleyball. Everyone really joined this time and also had experience from each other. Furthermore, local people and us could be closer.
3,2,1 The game is started!
Other memorable moments after work: Despite of tiring from working, we cherished the time we stay together, sharing the moment that we were on the truck or talked about the children in class and even watched the sun rised and sunset.
We work hard, stay young and be happy.
Memorable moments with Mrs Ly’s family after the meals.
Witty moments enjoying the sunset .
14 Juen 2016
Culture Night :
It was a night of youth cultural exchange. After visiting households, the stage was set up completely : arranged tables and chairs, sound, light …In this day, we had the opportunity to interact and learn the local culture and Singapore culture. The songs, the dances are echoes in the night atmosphere. Then the campfire repertoire, everyone including the kids whose we saw everyday in teaching hours, all holding hands around the flames, dancing and singing lively songs and immersed in memories together..
Attractive performance of S-team.
EVG team also brought wonderful performances for the Culture Night.
Gathered together the campfire after the culture night ended.
15 June 2016
Handover Ceremony : This is the ceremony of community activities in Cau Ke district with the presence of the teachers of Nanyang Technological University and especially the presence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Raymond Chow Vice Singapore- Department Head. This ceremony is aimed to sum up and acknowledge the achievements of the chain projects in Tra Vinh province.
Visited the Community Service Center in Phong Thanh Commune: After handover ceremony ended, we went to the Community Volunteer Centre at Phong Thanh commune, Cau Ke district, Tra Vinh province by bus in 20 minutes. We visited the library, looked the shelves filled up with donated books. The library helps change the habit of reading and bring knowledge closer to the poor rural areas. After that, we visited amusement parks made by other project’s volunteers and had the opportunity to understand the other projects of ECO Vietnam Group which has been and will be carried out for the purpose of servicing and changing community.
The playground in Phong Thạnh.
The library in Phong Thanh.
16 June 2016 : Come back HCM City
RnR days : After more than 10 days at Phong Phu, we carried the memories and regrets and returned to Saigon. We visited the monument, the landscape of Saigon, enjoyed streetfood here. These days helped S_team learn more about the history of Vietnam, the war in Vietnam.
We were at the War Remnants Museum.
18 June 2016
Goodbye Singaporean team :Finished the project with so many memories and both anxieties. But after all, we have learned a lot from this project. Understanding more about the Service Learning, learning how to change the view in a positive way; bounteous transmit experiences are collected after working days. Before the goodbye, we gave the notes and small gifts.
Giving notes and small gifts.
And there are many activities, memories, pictures and clips that we have been during the past 15-day journey. We learned how to install 1 bag biogas and understood how to operate it, knew how to refuel the entire household heating; more games, how to do cute things with coconut leaves from the children; enjoy delicious cuisine in the Western of the South of Viet Nam; kept awake to catch the best moments of sunrise and sunset; circumstanced the difficulties’s households which they are facing; and the smiles of the children. We came not only to serve the community but also learned a lot of things from this project
Phúc Thịnh – a volunteer :
After participating streak in 1611 at Phong Phu, looking back, I feel like I slept and was dreaming, then I woke up and regreted that a dream was too beautiful. 14 day project period is also fun, relaxed, most memories, the most meaningful, the most valuable, the most learned a lot so far in my life.
This is the first time I have braved enough to stept out my comfort zone and see the world. My english is not good, so I am quite shy to communicate with stranger people. And this is firt time I have lived and worked with 25 people who came from Singapore and didn’t know Vietnamese in the village. Before the trip I was worried, and was scared, nervous because hundreds questions insite my head : can i adapt, if I have been rejected, how I can make they understand, I may be isolationed, I may be bully, maybe have accident…… there have been many times in my life, when I participated in a new environment I feel stuck in communication, feeling I am so different, afraid. And, after 14 days at Phong Phu, I became a confidence person, I wish I participated earlier, the dream has not only such short.
Next I would like to thank first for EVG gave me the opportunity to dream, to live, to grow, I would like to thank for a special people, as well as volunteers in the project 1612.About my friend Hoang Mai Anh, thank you helped me known EVG, thank you’ve invited me. Next I would like to thank to the V-team of the project in 1611, who have accompanied me, helped me, and now have become my friends. Next I would like to thank 25 friends who are currently enrolled in NTU in Singapore, you are a great guys. I am proud to be associated with you. Also I would like to thank pepple who have helped, supported us throughout the project: Mr.Thanh, Ms. Lý, Mr.Da, the local people has helped us. Finally, I would like to thank Ms Vy, Ms Trang and Ms Linh and Mr.Hân, who always work closely with us.
This is the first time I participated in a project like this. A long-term project in local. Before the project, I totally deadlocked with the problems in life, was angry with everyday life, both myself and people around me. I participated in the project for many reasons, because I want to experience, because I want to get out of daily life, and I love volunteer work. However the project has given me much more than I expected.
In first day, we welcomed the Singapore students at Tan Son Nhat airport, i felt uneasy, seeing unfamiliar faces 25 and I did not know what to do and how to survive, but the truth always turned out less severe than imagination, life is sometimes not like a dream, and sometimes unexpected. But NTU students opened, shared and considered us. I was surprised when they are too friendly and proactive. What happier when you are yourself, you no longer have to think hesitated to say. I live with real myself, and I approved their comments. You should try it once, more worthwhile.
Not only people in Singapore, the member of V-team, the local people, but alo so those around us are friendly On the job, we do three main tasks which is installing biogas bags, teaching and doing housework. All three works are completely new to me. For me, each job is interesting and worth every moment. Through the project I learned how to assign work fairly and accurately between the team members.
The days of teaching are the beautiful days, you will also enjoy the sun and wind clouds rice (something rarely seen so hard to find if you are living in the city). When we came, the students from the class rushed into the yard, we felt so special, beloved, welcome.
After teaching, the students give us a lot of gifts. I was given a ring, a watch made by coconut leaves. Children love us very much. When we came back to Saigon, some of kids cried.
Doing housework is the time to relax .And the best time is cuting watermelon time.
After dinner, we had reflection, sometimes watching the stars together and surprised birthday party or shower time.
Mealtime is time for you to get acquainted with each other, exchanged and shared culture, people and dozens of other things. After dinner is a very fun time. There were a lot of activities: play volleyball, learn the skills of Teakwondo, play captain ball, play poker saboteur , play cards, play wolf cards. In addition after exciting moments, there was also quiet moment. Those nights sitting by candlelight,those night reflextion until midnight. Nights watching the stars is the most memorable moment. Watching the stars was a luxury thing for me in 21 years and this was the first time . I felt the sky was really high, deep, and saw the whole universe is in front of my eyes.
In addition to the sleep time, the moment of the day also has memories, are the new things you learn.
Through the project I not only have the memories, not only friends. After the project, as I said, confident and proud, now I am no longer afraid to see any strangers any more, because I know if I can close with more than 30 strangers in 10 days, I can talk with anyone, there’s nothing to be afraid of. I also learned the role of the establishment and management time, my normal day only lasts about 8 hours actual operation, much as one day I just really works 5 6 hours, but in the project, a day lasts 18 hours without actionplan with specific details, how can we be united more than 30 people to accomplish the same goals . And the most important thing I learned is there is also plenty of life issues, there are countless people every day face the more difficult my problem a lot of times. Therefore, the most recognized me after the project was my attitude towards my life, now I no longer feel stuck with this life anymore, no longer angry with myself, because I know what my problem was paid through thousands and thousands of people have passed, and they still live, still look to the future, is there anything that could stop my footsteps? . I feel confident and calm. Maybe I’ve matured.
Now, when the project ended, in my opinion a little sad, a little regret, but I know, no matter how much time left shelf for me still is not enough. Memories do not just want to hold their own. I want you to try one, I am sure you will assert no regrets.
Volunteer Mai Anh:
The project ended up more than one week and remained in me a lot of memories. Firstly, that is the days when racing against deadlines with action plan, culture night, guidebook. At that time, everyone just knew each other, but not really close. All of us still tried to do for a project was not getting mess (but in the end there was too much mess). I was anxious that how could I get along with everyone, do all the tasks …
Then the project started, things were different from what I thought. Each day there was a problem occurs and everyone sat down together and resolve. Reflection sessions felt like endless when a problem arises again many other issues. Sometimes, I felt disappointed in myself, about what was happening. But everything gradually stable, familiar work, new friends and I opened my heart. Everything was different. When the project went through, everything remained in my mind is that biogas construction – was hard but happy, those days with the kids or housekeeping – worked from early morning until night. And bonding sessions not only with V-team but also S-team. It’s been a long time I really get the simple happy from my work.
Over time, people gradually close together. But sometimes I still feel distant from the people, but actually in bottom of my heart thanks everyone for being part of the Vietnamese team and together got through hard trip J. To be met everyone, individuals with different personalities, is a blessing for me. At each one, I could learn different things from personality to the way to work. Really thanks everyone.
The project ended up more than one week and I’ve still got along with new timetable . In Phong Phu, we always woke up on time, had meals on time and lived with 30 people – I used to it. When I back to HCMC, I felt empty.
Thanks project for giving me the valuable lessons, the varied emotions with dear friends. My journey will continue and maybe are going to accompany the project again. Thank you!
Volunteer Hải Hà:
Firstly, I want to thank all of you guys (Ms.Khue, Ms.Anh, Ms.Thy,Mr.Thinh,Ms.Trang and Ms.Vy) for your advice and always being with me during the project.
The time in Travinh enabled me to meet great and kind-hearted people, such as Ms. Ly, who often cooks me specialities and delicacies; Ms. Dinh, who encouraged me a great deal when she knew that this was the first time I was a MC; other teenagers in Taekwondo class and locals who always warmly welcome me; and some friends from NTU.
In addition, teaching work was fulfilling and rewarding. I love the pupils’ learning attitude and the way they are curious and ask questions about the lessons. My pupils gave me a lot of hand-made presents some cards, my name banner, some watches and rings made from coconut leaves,…. to express their affection. I was moved and touched by their affection.