- Project overview
Project : YouthSmile – Project code : 1805
Time : 18 March – 31 March (14 days)
Place : Phong Thanh Commune, Cau Ke District, Tra Vinh Province
Participants : 24 volunteers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and 3 EVG volunteers
- Built a house for orphans
- Taught Physical Experiment in Phong Thanh Secondary School
- Upgraded the Physical Laboratory Phong Thanh Secondary School
- Visited 4 households in the commune
- Visited Pagoda
- Went fishing
- Organized Outdoor activities for children
- Organized Culture night and Camp fire.8
- Working process
Before the project happened, Vietnamese volunteer had had about 1 month to prepare. We were introduced about EVG, trained about First Aid.
These conical hats were decorated meticulously by V-team as a present for new friends from Singapore.
The first day:
On 18 March, EVG volunteers gathered at EVG Hub to prepare all logistic. We went to the air port with Mr Harry and Ms Trang to meet volunteers from Ngee Ann Poly. Although this was the first time EVG volunteers attend an OSL project, they were ardent and excited for the first meeting. After taking picture, the group got on the bus and started the journey. On the bus, Mr Harry had s short introduction about ECO Vietnam Group and then everyone introduced their names, hobbies. We had first meal together at Trung Luong Restaurant. We arrived to hotel at about 10 pm, so after check-in, V-team had a meeting with Mr Harry and Ms Trang to prepare for Welcome Ceremony.
In the next morning, a Welcome Ceremony was organized by Phong Thanh Commune helped volunteers have more enthusiasm and trust for the coming days.
Working Days at Phong Thanh:
The next days, despite hard-working and working under new environment, everybody tried to learn and help together to overcome miserably hard position and challenges. The whole trip was witnessed sweat, happiness, sadness as well as friendship that maybe experience only one time.
Every day, the whole team would be divided into 3 small groups, one group would be teaching, one was construction and the last one was “house keeping”. The “house keeping” team had responsibility to cook, clean up the house and “keep” the house while the others were working at school.
On 24 March, the whole group had a meaning morning for House Hold Visit activities at Phong Thanh Commune. S-Team had chance to know more about the daily life of local people and their difficulty. In the afternoon, everybody went to library to organize Library Event for students. Despite tiredness, everyone had a memorable weekend.
From Vietnamese volunteer
Tran Kim Oanh
It was such an honor that we had a chance to be a part of OSL 1805, which is the first but probably the best project in our life. There is no regret that we were there and have done that, dedicating a part of our youth to the betterment of Phong Thanh locals. Until now, in my mind there is still the feeling of joy when receiving the announcement from EVG that we were accepted as official volunteers for this programme .
In addition to the excited mood, I was very anxious and confused whether there is interaction with some Singapore volunteer or Not, .. etc … Thinking about all the miscellaneous things on life !!!!
Until the first meeting is not the mood, remember the first time I introduced the name on the bus down Tra Vinh: ” Hi! I’m Orin! ”, Everyone greeted, ” Hello, Orin! ” It seems that every anxiety has gone away half! Now everyone has been friends!
Thanks ECO VIETNAM GROUP for creating the environment for us to try our best. All activities in the OSL are the first time in my life to do such things !!
From getting up early to go shopping, teaching physics, going to build houses, going to visit households, holding a cultural exchanges, one-on-one translation, MC, … etc. Everything is new and there is no shortage of lessons, the lessons I get more, my heart is filled with the most sincere love. The joy of helping others, giving them the smile of emotion in me can not use words to describe. It is a precious experience that I have.
Remembering the construction, sunshine, we still grinned with sweat drooling on the cheek. Love the conversation, share with Thanh, remember her affectionate eyes. I felt like my sister in family. i thought Steam volunteers felt that ,too. I felt that they had all sentimental feelings and hope for each brick, painting in Doreamon that she really liked it in the bedroom. We hoped you have a favorite house, protected the sun and rain, and motivated you to study progress in the bright future.
Remembering the warm smiles and the warm welcome from the locals, remember the woman near the building always brought out hats for us, worried if we got sick! Remember uncle cut coconut for us to drink in the middle of the sun!
Remember the hours taught in class, remember the gaze is considered the physical experiments. Because this was the first time they have been practicing physics in the lab. Remember the bright face of children playing with the Steam. Remember when We karaoke on the bus.
And as we hear the local people, there are many unfortunate circumstances surrounding us, and they need help from others to make their lives better.
14 days was not long enough for us to learn a lot of things that we could change our way of life, our way of thinking. If someone asks me if I want the project to last longer, I will answer “yes”. I wish we had more time to serve, learn, understand each other as well as to be closer together.
The project has ended but the echo as well as the beautiful memories and all the things we learn will surely be with us in the future.
Once again thank you EVG, thank you everyone.
Le Thi Nhu Y
14 days with 1805 project, especially 11 days live in Cau Ke District, taught me lot of valuable lessons that I could not find in other volunteer works. The first lesson is how difficult it is when organizing a project, especially a project relating to foreigners. We have to take care of their safety, their eating habit, and sometimes their belongings. It is more difficult when sometimes they do not realize the important to keep themselves safe. Many volunteer did not wear hats, mask when they did construction work. I think they drink too much, but I could not do anything because that was Mr Andy permission. In my opinion, they should drink in weekend only because if they drink every day, their image with local people can be affected. Some people said to me that “Nothing happen” however it does not mean “Nothing WILL NOT happen”. The second lessons is about how to communicate with not only Singapore volunteer but also local people like teachers, students. If there is any misunderstanding, it is really hard to explain later. With students, I need to be more patient and calm because they are still vulnerable and innocent. This was the first time they had chance to do physical experiments, there were many new things so I regretted that I did not have more time to explain more clearly for them.
Be a volunteer for this project is one of the most meaningful decision in my student’s live. In the begining, it was really hard for me to know what I have to do and how I can communicate with S-team. I had to learn many things and notice every single details. However, the most difficult obstacle I faced is the language barrier. After talking more with them, I learned many interesting things from them like their responsibility, talent, friendship. I realize when we open our heart with others, they can feel it without too much words to explain. About teaching activies, I can understand how difficult it is when students from a rural school learn physical experiments with forgeiners. However, they tried their best to concentrate, to follow S-team’s instruction and listen my explanation. I can feel they had strong desire to learn new things and sometimes their excitement when conducting experiments by themselves made me feel really happy. I also had chance to play with them. I love their smile very much. Sometimes, they were still shy with S-team but thanks for S-team’s friendliness, many students were more confident and there seems to be no gap between them. About construction activitied, I can feel S-team effort when they wanted to complete the house on time. Althought, they did not know anything about building the house before they came here, they leared and followed instructor seriously. I also like the way they enjoyed their work (listening to music, joking, smoking and eating ice-cream). However the most memorable imagine in my mind is the attitude of Thanh and her family members. They treated S-team with all their heart and frienliness. I can not forget Thanh’s smile and tear in the last day, she have suffered too much misfortune in her life already. She has the right to be happy like anyone else. Finally, I would like to express my deepest respect to Mr Harry Van Anh and Ms Thuan Trang. I really apprecitate their contribution for the development of voluntary service as well as sustainable community in our country. I hope they will keep up their meaningful work and be a bridge to introduce more organization coming to Vietnam in future.