S1-A Simple Wish

“A Simple Wish Arup” is one of the company- partnered projects that ECO Vietnam Group has implemented in 2014. The project was completed as expected under the cooperation of the ARUP company- Singapore during the period from 28/5 / 2014- 06/01/2014.

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Unlike other OSL projects, project S1 took place for a short period of time but it still had positive effects to the community. We gave knowledge to the children through the lively lectures; helped them to be more confident and engage proactive communication in learning. Besides teaching activities, the project had a festival-cultural exchange which people can exchange and, learn from each other, unleashing the talents of each individual through songs and dance, theater acting and storytelling. These activities pull people closer together, helping children and students to better understanding the culture and people of Vietnam.

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EVG still hold a particular view about volunteering in any of our projects. ‘We are not simply going to give, to bestow. We volunteer to “serve and learn”, and to learn from the people we met.’ With that, we organized the visit, gifts and hold close conversation with people here. As for the participants themselves, they feel and write reflection on the experiences.

We can see the values that the project brings to the community. We do not just help the children with difficult lives, but educate them with soft skills training that are useful for the students. EVG provides a chance for youth to have direct access to the Service Learning model and foster many friendships with international youths.

ECO Vietnam Group hopes that in the future, we  will cooperate with many more parties to work together , to build a beautiful country.

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1405-Warm Smiles Project

About the project:

  • WARM SMILES Project
  • Time : 21/7/2014 – 05/8/2014
  • Place: Phuong Thinh Commune, Cao Lanh District, Dong Thap Province.
  • Participants: 22 students of Nanyang Technological University – OVE (Overseas Volunteer Expedition); 5 Vietnamese volunteers and others members of ECO Vietnam Group.

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  • Achievements:
    • Completing the Kindergarten with an open ceremony
    • English Teaching
    • Making “Non la” for auction selling
    • Culture Night

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Warm Smiles is the fifth project in 2014, in cooperation with Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), 5 Vietnamese volunteers and the help of other EVG members. The project aims to improve the standard of living of the villagers, specifically the children in Phuong Thinh commune, Dong Thap province.

The main activities of the project would be the building of the kindergarten in Phuong Thinh, teaching English for a primary school in Phuong Thinh, visiting the poor in the community, organizing the Culture Night for the community.

Our jobs here for 10 days are mainly: 1) building the kindergarten; 2) housework; 3) teaching every afternoon in Phuong Thinh commune. Adding on to that, we had one afternoon to make auction items together with the  Singapore students and children in Phuong Thinh.

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  • Building of Kindergarten

With regards to the physical construction works, the previous project in Phuong Thinh had laid the foundation and built up the wall. Our job was to mainly finish the floor and paint the wall. For the first 5 days, the main work was to mix cement and scattered rock on the ground to build the floor. From 27/7 onwards, NTU SCE(another team which was also hosted by EVG) joined in. The speed of the construction work increased tremendously with the help of more people. We completed laying tiles on the floor and moved on to paint the wall. The entire building required a lot work, with each task requiring different skills. We needed strength and precision when we are mixing the cement. As for painting work, we needed craftsmanship. Thanks to the detailed instructions of the construction workers and the enthusiasm of all NTU students and Vietnamese volunteers, we were able to complete the kindergarten and handed it over to the people of Phuong Thinh on 2/8. From now on, parents in Phuong Thinh will have a better place to send their children to.

Results: Officially inaugurated the kindergarten with toilet and 2 water tank. Everybody felt happy and satisfied with the results. We learnt about 1) being patient in our work, 2) not being afraid of difficulties, 3) ever- ready to solve problems, 4) listen to others more and 5)solidarity between volunteers.

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  • Teaching:

The NTU-OVE team taught English to children of Phuong Thinh 1 primary school. The syllabus was designed by Singapore students and Vietnamese volunteers help them with the translation for the children to better understand the English lessons. We had classes on all afternoon, except Saturday and Sunday. The children of Phuong Thinh were very fond of the lessons and attended classes eagerly. After two week, we realize the importance is not what the children had learnt but the close-knitted bonds that had been forged between the children (and people of Phuong Thinh in general as well) and all the volunteers. All the children and volunteers were very disappointed when it was time to part goodbye.     10589898_10152420499548171_1980988478_n

Results: What we achieved so far is knowledge and hope we can act as an inspiration to the children of Phuong Thinh and, with the hope that they will encourage them to fulfil their dream.

  •  Auction item

On 1/8, The Sing-team, V-team and children of Phuong Thinh decorated a ‘Non La’ together to sell in a fundraising auction which will take place later in Ho Chi Minh City.

Results: The ‘Non La’ was beautifully decorated with the help of all Singapore volunteers and children of Phuong Thinh.

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  • Housework

This was done by a team of 4 to 5 Singaporean volunteers and 1 Vietnamese volunteer. We would change the team doing housework everyday so that they could try other work too. All we had to do was to: set up the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, wash dishes, clean up the sleeping area and toilet twice a day. Moreover, we would help the cook to prepare the food, dessert, replacing of the garbage bags and collect the garbage around the house and library.

All the logistics needed were provided. The different job scopes were divided to the team clearly. As the S-team was not used to washing dishes or cleaning up areas, the cleaning up was not of the best results in the first day. After a few tries, we got used to the cleaning work, cooperated well with each other and the work was done more efficiently. All the areas required being clean for accommodation and activity met the intended expectations.

 Results: Everybody cooperated very well, and the cleaning up was done with ease.

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  • Culture night

The culture night was from 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm, with the performance by the people of Phuong Thinh, students from NTU, Vietnamese volunteers and members of EVG. After the culture night, it was campfire, all of us were enjoying, and we had a great time together.

Results: The performances occurred in a warm and friendly atmosphere with a lot of laughs from everybody. Everybody enjoyed the show. It was a successful night.

Thoughts about the project

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These words are on the behalf of all Vietnamese volunteers for this project:

After two weeks in Phuong Thinh, we had gained great experience. We learned how to work together as a team in order to complete the project. We learned how to find joy in our everyday tasks by keeping the morale high when the construction work was tiring. We learned how take care of ourselves and also to take care of each other in a place far away from home. We learned about the lives of people in a situation that are less fortunate than us and what we can do, more or less, to have a positively impact on their lives. We learned the value of serving the community, not only for those people we helped but for ourselves as well.

Above all, we learn about love and friendship with strangers that we had just met. That will be the most valuable thing that will etch in our hearts. The project has ended, but the memory forge lives on.

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Gia Bac Community Volunteering Center

Gia Bac Community Volunteer Center was founded in early December 2013 by a group of volunteers from Vietnam and Nanyang Girl’s High School from Singapore. To this day, the center has been fully developed.  The center has a large main room built and has been in operation since early 2014. Gia Bac Community Volunteer Center places importance in becoming a comfortable and friendly learning environment for students in Gia Bac. This is a place where the children can come and play; learn as well as interact with each other. There are hundreds of cultural and science books available for them to read and enhance their knowledge. Furthermore, all the learning facilities are well equipped with adequate tools to create the ideal learning environment.
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In addition, there are public restrooms which consist of 6 toilets and 6 bathrooms for the benefit of the students studying in the library. The building fund is supported by BeCause Vietnam non-profit organization and ‘Lan Toa Yeu Thuong’ fundraising event hosted by ECO Vietnam Group.602104_10152063905960977_770150898_n

The Gia Bac community volunteer center is the brainchild that ECO Vietnam Group has cherished for so long. Our mission is to provide an excellent environment that can facilitate effective learning for Gia Bac students and increase their desire to read more and to learn more. Our long-term plan is to eliminate illiteracy and help the students to learn critical life skills for their future. EVG hopes to achieve our long-term plan, and at the same time, fulfill the dreams of Gia Bac children by continuing to establish and maintain the activities in the center.

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1401 – Spring Horse project

  • SPRING HORSE Project
  • Time : 9/3/2014 – 22/3/2014
  • Place: Gia Bắc Commune,  Di Linh District, Lâm Đồng Province.
  • Participants: 24 students of Ngee Ann Polytechnic with two teachers; 4 Vietnamese volunteers and others members of ECO Vietnam Group.
  • Achievement:

– Knitting the doors of the Library,

– Lifting the floor of the Library

– English Teaching

– Book Fair

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Spring horse is the first project in 2014, in association with Ngee Ann Polytechnic- Singapore, the official participation of 4 Vietnamese volunteers and the help of other EVG members, to improve the standard of living of the villagers, especially the children in Gia Bac commune, Lam Dong province.

The main activity of the project can be considered as lifting the floor of the Community Library, Knitting the doors of the Library, teaching English for the student in Gia Bac primary school, visiting poor houses, organizing Book Fair and Culture Night for the children and the people there.

About knitting, in the 3 first days, we did it in the morning, then also in the afternoon. This work was not so hard, but it required patience and responsibility, also the ability of working together as a team. The participants needed to observe, analyzed and followed the instruction of the workers. We had some convenience in work thanks to wide work-space, enthusiast workers, gloves to protect our hand, and “non la” with masks for not getting sun burn. However, working under direct sunlight made us tired very easily and needed a lot of water. Thanks to Mr. Ok, we had big water bottle everywhere for everyone, this meant a lot to us.

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Starting for those first days of the lifting work was to clean the library to get the space, we moved the bookshelves and others accessories outside, then break the old cement. A lot of efforts and strengths had been spent to crush the old surface. It seemed like over-hard for girls, but they wanted to try and they were very keen on this work. We finished it without spending too much time.

Many days after, our main works were moving sands for the workers and inside the library. A brilliant thing that happened to us was that the workers had their own machine to mix the cement, so we did not have to make it by our own. But in next day, the electricity was off. Our volunteers had a chance to try it.

Besides, they participated in paving tiles too. After making the tiles inside the water during 15 minutes, they moved them to the workers.

One day after, we helped to fill the empty space between tiles with white cement and cleaned the library again.

Results:Even giving a lot of strength, both Vietnamese and Singaporean volunteers  took back something precious: patience, attention to the work, the way to assign work for the members of the team, attitude toward working, proactive spirit, and the fundamental knowledge like how to use spades, mix the cement, pave tiles…

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Our Book Fair plan was carried out to reality with some success which we were very proud at. The children had a chance to participate in games, where they could run and move a lot with laughing on their face. They also could color and decoration pictures and paper sheets. The materials like color pencils, markers and the little sparkling things to decorate were which the kids rarely have a chance to use it, because their families are so poor for buying that. The Reading Corner also attracted a lot of kids sitting in their place and reading books they get from the shelves. Bringing them joy and books made us very happy and feeling a little proud of our kids, because no matter how hard their life would be, they are still innocent and optimist and always have the smile on their face.

Culture night

The culture night was on stage from 6.30 pm to 7.45 pm, included 3 spectacles from Gia Bac primary school, 2 from the library and 3 from S-team, finally one spectacle with the performance of the V-team and the kids. We ended the show by the giving candy and cookies for them.

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1316 – Home Project

­ Time: 8 Dec – 22 Dec (14 days)

Place: Gia Bac Lam Dong

Members: SMU

Achievement:

– Built 1 ECO Love House
– English Teaching.

– Library event

Home Project is a collaborative project between the student groups EVG and Singapore Management University (Singapore), to be implemented in Gia Bac commune, a poor commune of Di Linh District, Lam Dong Province. To help communities more difficult in Gia Bac, groups of volunteers from EVG and SMU has two main activities are: ECO Love House construction and teaching English to children in elementary grades 3 Gia Bac.

While getting used to the job, the volunteers came from SMU seems to be the “experts” in the building, they can even understand the builder without translation of the Vietnam Volunteer . The always creative in your job, the “human chain” is established when necessary to move material from the outside. Learning is a very fast and advantages of you. Group to group housing is always sweating the most, however, is to fulfill the workflow sooner than expected.

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Teaching job seems to be a little light work and more difficult. But the reality is not so. Teaching English is also extremely exciting and interesting. The first time I was exposed to here, the volunteers were very impressive and endearing. Because they bravely and so much more confident than before, so lessons are lively and very quickly they became acquainted with you.

Library Event: There are 11 games booth volunteers of both the Singapore and Vietnam volunteers. The children participating in winter but not as expected but everyone is very excited and play hard. The girls did not like the original male boldly join the static booth (to bowl, bowl and colored sand paintings). Last time, they were participating in big games and receive gifts.

 

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End of Project R & R trip lasts more than one day in Ho Chi Minh City. The members of the delegation had the opportunity themselves to each other and understand each other better. Everyone is very sorry that ended last trip and return meaningful. However, this will be a very memorable anniversary. Everyone was hoping that would meet again in a different project OCIP.

1315 – Pay it forward project

Time: 3 Dec – 9 Dec

Place: Phuong Thinh, Dong Thap

Members: 50 students of Innova Junior College Singapore

Achievement:

–      Built 1 Km road

–      Built 2 toilets

–      English Teaching

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Project Pay It Forward marked the start of cooperation between EVG and Innova Singapore high school. Through this project, a new cooperation was formed and the importance of EVG as well as its authority over Singapore and Dong Thap province was increased.

From 3/12/2013 to 9/12/2013, PAY IT FORWARD project held by ECO Vietnam Group (EVG) together with Innova Singapore took place ebulliently at Phuong Thing Commune, Cao Lanh District, Dong Thap province. This is the project whose aim was to help and improve the lives of the locals at Phuong Thinh Commune.

Within 7 days, with the youthful enthusiasm and the aspiration for developing community, nearly 60 volunteers from Vietnam and Singapore devoted themselves to help the locals. Some typical events were: visiting the poor, teaching English to children, building 1-kilometre long road, 2 toilets as well as organizing tours for Singaporean students to the tunnels of Cu Chi and 3 more famous tourist attractions in HCM city.

On the first   day at Phuong Thinh commune, both Singaporean and Vietnamese volunteers teamed up to build 2 toilets for some poor families. Despite the baking hot weather along with some unpleasant insects, they still worked enthusiastically in the hope of contributing to the community.

The image of 16-17 year-old students breaking sweat to do every single task meticulously touched the locals greatly. No matter how hard they worked, there was hardly any complaints

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Besides, on the next days, English classes at Phuong Thinh I, II primary school also made a good impression on the locals, especially the students studying here. Our volunteers always knew how to attract their students with interesting methods.

Apart from English classes, students also had a chance to take part in extracurricular activities with Singaporean volunteers. No matter whether it was traditional games of Vietnam or Singapore, the students joined with all their might. They really got along well with our volunteers, considering them as their siblings. On the way home, the children and the volunteers were hand in hand; they talked to each other happily. Happiness was that simple; perhaps, we would never forget those kids, who treated us with all their heart.

The volunteers’ high spirit once again was proved through the work of building road for the locals. Under the scorching hot weather, the volunteers tried their best to complete the road in the hope that no one would fall due to slippery roads

No matter how hard they worked, no matter what gender they were, the volunteers all tried their best to accomplish the mission. When the buidling task was done, everyone turned black and thin. However, seeing the happiness sparkling in the locals’ eyes, all exhaustion soon wore off,

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Apart from daily activities, the volunteers of Pay It Forward project spent some time organizing one cultural exchange night with the locals. Everyone gathered happily around the camp fire and beautiful melody resounded the place. From here, the friendships grew.

On the last day of the project, after leaving Phuong Thinh Commune, the next destinations we visited were the tunnels of Cu Chi, Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral, War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh market, etc… These famous places helped the Singaporean volunteers knew more about Vietnamese history and culture

Looking back the memorable days, there were times they felt exhausted and even helpless; however, the volunteers of this project always kept up the true spirit of social activists. They never hesitated in any difficult tasks. And above all, they always maintained their youthful enthusiasm. According to them, this trip helped them grow more mature and cherish their precious lives.

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One thing remaining after the project was marvellous feelings they would never forget. This project also provided them with invaluable experience that they would remember forever.

 

1314 – Sunshine Project

Time: 23 Nov – 6 Dec

Place: Gia Bac Lam Dong

Members: 21 students of Saint Andrew Junior College

Achievement:

[EVG Learning and Cultural Hall] included:

–      EVG Class room

– EVG Cultural Hall

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Sunshine was a cooperation project between EVG and Saint Andrew’s Junior College, taken place at Gia Bac Commune, the poorest commune belong to Di Linh District, Lam Dong province. The locals here at Gia Bac live mainly on growing coffee and corns. Their incomes are really low; consequently, they don’t care much about education for their children. In order to fight poverty, the initial task is to change their outdated thoughts fixed in their mind. Step by step, EVG has been tried our best to reach this target. Understanding the importance of education and the preservation of K’hor’s culture, which is gradually falling into oblivion, in 23/11, we, Singaporean volunteers from SAJC and three volunteers of ECO Vietnam Group got together at Gia Bac to build a classroom and a gallery in the hope of creating an educational environment for children, a place for the locals to spread and preserve the beauty of their culture. In addition, we also bring them hours of learning English in the most comfortable way as well as giving some practical gifts for the poor. We almost finished building the classroom and the gallery ( without doors). Within 10 days at Gia Bac, we accomplished our missions: 10 useful English classes in 6 days; visiting 3 poor families and giving them gifts; harvesting coffee, building 1 classroom and 1 gallery On the first day, we arrived at Gia Bac in the evening and rested that night. On the second day, we got to work immediately. We, 21 volunteers (Singaporean and EVG) were divided into 3 groups: one group for contruction tasks, one group for teaching task and the other group was in charge of domestic tasks (cooking, washing dishes and cleaning).

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In addition, there was one group who was responsible for harvesting coffee, but this duty was just done in 1 day ( in the morning and in the evening) for the reason that the construction tasks were much more important. These tasks were shifted among groups in the following days. All volunteers were all enthusiastic about the brand new experiences. On the first working day, everyone was all eagerly awaited… Harvesting coffee just took place in one day, but it was warmly welcome by volunteers. Despite the swelteringly hot weather, the volunteers still did the job enthusiastically. Moreover, they had a chance to learn about the process of growing, harvesting and subjecting coffee to preliminary treatment. They paid more attention to the price as well as living standard of the farmers in this red soil. Besides, this work required some particular skills and effort. In the first stage, the volunteers were quite awkward when carrying out the job. However, the the next days, they made progress quite fast thanks to their enquring mind. They found it interesting to do the construction work, which was expected to be uninteresting and require a lot of effort. But the lessons they gained from the experience is invaluable. In some days, when there were so much work to cover, the volunteers still patiently carried on to complete the duty. In spite of the baking hot season, they still felt satisfied with their products.  Teaching task, which was thought to be much easier and funnier, turned out to be no less than difficult. The difficulty lied in some naughty boys, who much preferred playing with guests to studying, while girls tended to be passive in the lessons. In the first class of class 4B, boys struggled for taking parting the games to receive gifts whereas girls were not brave enough to join though they knew the answers. Fortunately, the children were very obedient and after receiving out encouragement, everyone joined the class happily. They also joined us to dance along with some English songs. The class atmostphere became much more comfortable. Partly, our lesson target was to raise English level of children in the highland. However, another important aim was to help them become more confident in communication skills and realize the positive effect of education on the future. Overall, teaching task was highly appreciated as it brang up the outcome better than expected. Singaporean volunteers prepared carefully for the lessons to arouse the interest of their students. Furthermore, we also organized 2 more events: one library event and one night for cultural exchanges. Library event was very successful when it attracted quite a few children of Gia Bac primary school. Including both creative and physical games, library event helped create an environment for children to engage themselves in and become more active. Cultural exchange night was held at the library. There were not many guests except teachers at Gia Bac primary school and Singaporean and Vietnamese volunteers. The most attentive audiences were children and parents. Together they made a warm performance night On the last days, we organized to visit 3 poor families and gave them some meaningful and practical gifts. It was not just a simple visit, it provided us with a chance to understand more about the locals’life as well as helping us figure out what made this land be under poverty. From that point, we could contemplate more about our contribution to this beloved land. On the last night at Gia Bac, we gathered around the camp fire, together we sang and shared our thoughts. 10 days at Gia Bac had passed, we returned to HCM city. There is not a single word, but we all believe that we’ve gained a lot of precious knowledge and experience. The next destinations were the tunnels of Cu Chi, Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral, War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh market, etc… These famous places helped the Singaporean volunteers knew more about Vietnamese history and culture. The 14-day period had passed, we had to say goodbye. But what we received was the friendship, the experience from daily life at Gia Bac, and the beautiful memories we would never forget.

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