Time: 15/12/2013 to 27/12/2013
Place: Gia Bac Lam Dong
Members: 28 students of Nanyang Girls High school
[EVG Learning and Cultural Hall] included:
– EVG Classroom
– 1 EVG toilet
– English Teaching
Gia Bac, with 99% of population are K’Ho ethnics, is one of the deprived commune in Vietnam. The main income of the locals is from coffee bean and corn harvesting. However, the harvesting is much affected by changing weather, which brings about lots of difficulties in their daily lives. Also, it is because of the poverty that kids in Gia Bac do not receive enough love and care from their parents who are busy days and nights working to meet ends meet and more importantly, good education. The vicious circle of poverty – low education – low awareness – poverty is the one that EVG has been aiming to break down since the very first day we set foot on this land to start our community development projects.
As one of the four OCIPs hosted by ECO Vietnam Group taking place in Gia Bac commune at the ending time of year 2013, Angel’s Smile Project was carried out from 15/12/2013 to 27/12/2013 (EVG) and supported by teachers and students from Nanyang Girls’ High School ( Singapore), one of EVG’s long-time partners. Our mission this time is to build 1 EVG toilet and 1 EVG classroom, to harvest coffee beans, to teach English to 4th& 5th grade students, to organize “ Library Event” & “Cultural Night“ for the kids and to visit poor families. After 10 days of hard but fun and meaningful work in Gia Bac, we came back to Ho Chi Minh city with smiles. We smiled because we know that we did contribute something to this community with our great efforts and that we all learned some precious lessons from this trip. Just as the slogan of this project, we gave hands and took smiles.
Below is sharings from 2 Vietnamese volunteers who joined Angel’s Smile project. Please take a look and learn how they think and feel about the project!
This trip didn’t give me strong feelings, life-changing thoughts or a twist in my life. I have experienced volunteering work in previous volunteer trips before and thus, it was not easy for me to get aroused tremendously.
But, this trip gave me a feeling of love for my country. A long road twisting between mountains leading to Gia Bac is filled with green color, the color of trees growing strongly on this highland area. I was overwhelmed with excitedness seeing the amazing scene and couldn’t help being proud of the beauty of Vietnam landscape. Then, when I set foot on the land of Gia Bac, the excitement doubled as the place here was so peaceful and refreshing.
This trip also let me see myself of 5 years ago. Everyday, I and other 20 middle high schoolgirls woke up at 5:30, had breakfast at 6:30 in a relaxed atmosphere, and started construction work at 7:30. 1 hour of us working actually could be done in just 5 minutes by the professional builders, but we enjoyed learning to do the tasks, making mistakes and getting the hang of them. After a day of working, the girls gathered in the library to do the reflection. They laughed, they cried and hugged each other to forget their homesickness. And I saw myself in them. 5 years ago, I was also like that, being new to everything at a new place, laughing, crying, going through ups and downs and growing up.
Coming back to the city, I have more free time for myself and enjoy all the conveniences, but still, I can’t help missing Gia Bac and everything happened there.
Hoang Thi Quynh Anh
I, a newly graduated girl who has got full of passions, ambitions and desires to learn, embarked on the community development project with the group of students from Nanyang Girl’s High School taken place in Gia Bac commune. And here, I want to share with you three things this trip has taught me.
Lesson no.1: Giving must go with consideration.
Since I was little, my parents has taught me to help others who are less fortunate than me. Keeping my parents’ words in my mind, I have been on many volunteer trips to help unfortunate people. And not until this project had I thought I had helped a lot of people. But, this trip made me realize that a mere action of giving doesn’t assure that you will receive happiness. If you give just to satisfy your feelings without thorough consideration, your giving doesn’t mean anything.
Lesson no.2: Open to your team member
In this project, our group included 20 Singaporean girl students, 6 teachers, 1 tourguide and 6 Vietnamese volunteers. Together we spent 10 days in Gia Bac building 1 toilet and 1 classroom, teaching English to elementary students and holding 2 big events for the kids. How come a group of too many individuals with different characters and backgrounds could finish all of the tasks? Because we didn’t just work and work. We talked. We laughed. We cried. We shared every moment together. We opened our hearts to each other. Not only did we learn to work with building & teaching materials only but we also learn to work with people.
I learned that the key to a team success is “chit-chat”. We chat to understand each other better, to erase all the initial misconceptions of each other, to see and accept the real of our team members and to find a way to work well with each other.
Lesson no.3: A small thing to me maybe is a very big thing to others.
At the last day of the project, I had a chance to visit a poor family in Gia Bac. There are 5 people in this family, one old father and four little children. The father is sick, so everyday, 4 little kids have to walk a 10-km-long way to their farming land to take care of corn and coffee trees. Their daily meal is rice and wild veggy, and rarely with some dried fishes. In winter, wood is used for cooking rice so there is no wood left for them to warm up themselves. Four of them sleep on 2 small beds and share 2 quilts. But, however poor they are, the father saves all the money he has got, even money for treating his illness, for his chidlren’s education with the hope that they will have a better life than him.
You know, a small amount of money to me, 20000 VND for a cup of coffee, can buy him 1-week-food. Seeing the great difference between their lives and mine made me understand so well how blessed I am to have such a life without worries for basic needs and hence urged me to stop affording unneccesary things and use the money for a better purpose. No eating cakes for three days and use the money to buy the family a new quilt is a good instance, isn’t it?
Nguyen Thi Mai Khanh (Nicole)