Against the backdrop of the complicated developments of the pandemic that hit our country, in particular, Cau Ke’s local community confirmed some COVID-19 cases. To ensure people’s safety and manage to control the pandemic, the issuance of the Directive was made by the local authorities promptly.
Under the new Directive of Tra Vinh province, we decided to close our libraries. Most of the library activities temporarily came to a halt to ensure people’s safety.
To continue to fulfill the mission related to improving access to the quality of education and to enable the children to catch up with the new trend, all the activities, classes have taken place via online platform. Furthermore, the library has brought the library’s existing computers, laptops to the children’s homes. Then we guide them and their parents on how to use laptops and online classrooms of Zoom apps where they can join the Library’s online classes with other partners and volunteers both domestically and internationally.
With these actions, the children can easily access the knowledge of not only the library’s classes but also online courses. Moreover, this method will ensure health protection, reduce their parent’s anxiety, and know the ways of online learning.
After more than one week of the preparation and delivery of laptops, the first class was conducted pretty well. The students actively engaged in the lesson even though they showed their minor shyness because that was the first time they met people via computer screen. The most difficult they had to face in the first lesson was login activities (despite the careful guidance and run trials) as well as other Zoom functions to do the practice and interact with volunteer teachers. Be that as it may, most people expressed their patience and happiness when guiding and waiting for children until they could do those practices well and then moved on to other activities.
Before the lesson, the children would sing the song “Hello” together to arouse their interest and then they would give their introduction to others in English to help strengthen the bond, minimize the gap between them and volunteers. During the lesson, the majority of children tended to be quite shy and turned off the camera but after having been asked to turn it on, they followed very well and strictly. At the end of the lesson, most of them expressed their thankfulness and shared their feelings, thinking about that lesson.
In June, the classes continuously took place from Wednesday morning to Sunday every week. The morning classrooms mainly focus on primary students from age 8 to 10 years old with a wide variety of interesting topics such as animal names, tower building, learning English through songs, bathroom objects, classrooms,…
The afternoon classrooms will teach students at the secondary and higher education with the advanced level, the children discuss and study grammar rules (noun, verb, adjective, conjunction,.), topic-related vocabulary such as the bathroom, school as well as virtual reality, 3D printer, Scratch program,
During the lesson, some activities were organized in many ways, in particular, breaking down the rooms – Breakout Zoom, Annotate to draw, answering the questions in the box chat, all the students were highly interested in those activities and shown their excitement about them, which help students not only remember knowledge but also boost their interaction among them as well as develop observational skill and listening skill.
After about two lessons, the students in the morning class were more confident and did not hesitate to interact with volunteers and actively ask people. The class gradually expanded from 10 to nearly 20 participants in a class. Students were not only in Phong Thanh commune (Library) but also expanded to adjacent communes such as Phong Phu, Cau Ke, etc. Besides, students also used computers and phones at home to study with the library due to the limited number of computers. All the children expressed their preferences when participating in the class and wanted to grasp more knowledge. The ability to use computers has become much more proficient, they actively logged into class earlier than the given time to check their attendance.
Prior to COVID 19, the children mainly studied at the library and no matter how difficult they were, volunteers willingly supported in a timely manner and managed the class easier. In the new situation, it is also an advantage for them to get used to computers, have more time to learn and while introducing to their parents about access, find out the information. Volunteers also would gain valuable experience in organizing online classes and managing distance learning.
Despite the complicated developments of the pandemic, the library makes great efforts
so that more classes can be given to students, and they are not left behind.
In addition, three students of the library won the Beyond Borders scholarship. In 6 months, they have successfully completed their study period. Students persistently attended and actively engaged in all the classes. They also got many rewards from teachers and people. At the end of the class ceremony, Miss Hoa was responsible for the host and the project’s teacher. Because of her experience as MC at the Library, she was very bold, confident, and highly communicative in the activities. Some students such as Ngoc, Tram, and Anh Thu dubbed the short film Frozen. We are very happy and take a great deal of pride in them because they did a great job, they willingly put themselves out of limits, improve their English pronunciation skills, embrace proactive learning and know-how to manage their time well that do not affect their academic performance in the school
Location: Hoa An Commune, Cau Ke District, Tra Vinh Province
Participants: 26 students from Hall 13 of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore along with 5 Vietnamese volunteers and 1 EVG members (also the project manager).
+ Finished 5 Biogas systems
+ Taught English for local primary school’s kids.
+ Visited and gave presents to 8 local deprived households.
SPREAD THE CHANGES is a community project in Hoa An commune with the participation of 26 students from Hall 13 of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore along with 5 Vietnamese volunteers and the support of 1 ECO Vietnam Group’s members who is also the manager of Project 1612.
This project aims to finish the construction of 5 Biogas systems, attract as many Hoa An A primary school’s kids as possible to attend our English lessons, visit and give presents to 8 local deprived households, join in the Hand Over Ceremony held in Phong Thanh commune, visit a Khmer temple and also participate in the summing-up ceremony called Culture Night.
The First 2 days:
The morning of 06/06/2016, the Vietnamese volunteers along with Ms. Ngoc Phuong (manager of Project 1612) gathered at Tan Son Nhat International Airport to greet the Singaporean volunteers from Nanyang Technological University. Despite the unfamiliarity at first, everyone was quick and happy to mark the first moments of the project with group photos. Following the itinerary approved in advance, Singaporean volunteers were picked up to the hotel where each of them had some times to take a short rest then. At the end, the both team together spent initial interactive moments while going see Ben Thanh market.
The morning of 07/06/2016, the group departed for Hoa An commune. Arriving in Hoa An, everyone gave their hands in living orientation so proactively despite being tired from the long journey that we finished quickly. Thanks to the sincere assistance of the commune, the Welcome Ceremony was taken place in such a peaceful and warm harmony. Especially, we were very excited to get the attending of Mr. Van Anh- President of EVG and Ms. Vy- Operating Staff of EVG.
Right after that, we were divided into groups and had our first visitation to 4 local households. We were not only touched because of the difficulties they have to experience during their daily days but also felt great admiration for their courage to overcome through all the challenges without losing hopes or dreams of the better life in the future. We finished the first day with complicated emotions, which brought us closer to the commune living customs. On the top of that, we were inspired to work hard and contribute to the improvement there.
The work days in Hoa An:
Following the first few days of settling down and getting accustomed to the life and people of Hoa An was the series of work days, where our hard works were to be placed.
Construction works seemed to be the one that interested everyone the most, despite the long distance from the living area and its demanding nature. Biogas construction, perhaps, was the most challenging and difficult experience. In spite of Uncle Thanh’s generous help, we all had to cope with harsh environment conditions at the first household, which took us longer to complete our goals than expected. However, we could finally keep up the pace and maintain a stable process after the second household. The only difficulty we had to deal with was the Southern erratic weather.
Teaching was much better than our expectation, a lot of students attended classes though they were on their summer vacation. Singaporean and Vietnamese volunteers together made all lessons full of laughter and meaningful. In every night before the lessons, the both team gathered to have brief discussion on the ideals and together think out the solutions to make sure that what we were gonna teach would be transferred efficiently. We didn’t get how emotional and sensitive the kids are until the end of the project seeing they said goodbye to us with faces poured with tears.
Along with teaching and construction works, housework was also an essential part of our time in Hoa An. The living area needed to be kept clean and meals were to be prepared before everyone got home after work. Having received the warm instructions of the cook – the woman we were used to called “Co Hai”, we experienced preparing local special dishes. During that time, we together spent moments full of laughers. Also, we enhanced our knowledge and interest in the differences between two nation’s culture and living customs. All of these pieces of small things, little by little, brought us closer silently.
In addition to working hours, we also visited poor households, interacted with local officials and went to Khmer temple… Through practical activities, not only V-team but also S-team understood more about the Khmer lifestyle here, their difficulties and concerns as well as optimism about the lives and beautiful culture. There were tears in the afternoon at those old thatched houses where usually only the elderly and children stay in…
Hand-over Ceremony at Phong Thanh Province:
Hand-over ceremony of EVG’s projects, which was implemented by Eco Vietnam Group and students of NTU, took place in Phong Thanh commune, Cau Ke district, Tra Vinh province. The aims of the ceremony are to summed up achievements the two sides together obtained, consisting of completing Biogas systems and finishing a playground; also to consider the joint marked results and to look backward the passing time since EVG and NTU had been officially partners in 2009. The ceremony was even more meaningful because of the presence of lectures from NTU and Mr. Raymond Chow – The Singapore Deputy Director General of Foreign Affairs.
The volunteers were also served with Tra Vinh specialties. Then all together visited the community library and the playground constructed by a previous group of volunteers.
In Culture Night, we witnessed a lot of beautiful traditional performances with full of Vietnamese and Singaporean culture. The participation of local representatives, EVG volunteers, NTU students and local people has contributed to make an emotional night: excitement with local performances; enthusiasm with songs and dance from our Singaporean friends; gentleness and softness with the performances from Vietnam volunteers. We had to practice a lot to prepare for the performances but still worried that we would forget gesture. But when we came out in a long flowing Áo dài with enthusiastic encouragement from our beloved Singaporean friends, we eventually finished our performances, excellently. All the precious emotions transmitted into the flame when everyone gathered around the campfire. The flame reflected the days we had spent in Hoa An with happiness, sadness and lit up hope the next project.
Last day, we returned to the city to pay a visit to Cu Chi Tunnel and War Remnants Museum which marked an end of our memorable project.
III. Volunteers’ thoughts:
“Spread the changes” is the last project in the series of 6 projects with the main goal is to conduct Biogas systems for locals. This project, held by ECO Vietnam Group together with the help of Singaporean students from Nanyang Technological University, took place in Hoa An Commune, Cau Ke District, Tra Vinh Province. This project lasted for 14 days (from June 6 to June 20) in which we spent 12 days working and living together. On the very first day, we celebrated 25 students first landing in Vietnam; however, in the next 5 days, we welcomed one more Singaporean students to join us. From EVG’s side, there were 01 project manager and 05 volunteers living in HCM city that joined this project. After 02 weeks in commune, we completed 05 biogas systems for 05 households, taught English for 20 students as well as introduced Vietnam’s and Khmer’s traditional beauty for Singaporean friends through daily cooking, housekeeping, conducting biogas, visiting Khmer pagoda and sport exchanging with local youths….
During the 3-first days at Hoa An commune, most of us felt strange and unfamiliar with new working and living conditions. Consequently, we were in trouble with communication and understanding between each other. Biogas construction, perhaps, was the most challenging and difficult experience. In spite of Uncle Thanh’s generous help, we all had to cope with harsh environment conditions at the first household, which took us longer to complete our goals than expected. However, we could finally keep up the pace and maintain a stable process after the second household. The only difficulty we had to deal with was the Southern erratic weather. Teaching was much better than our expectation, a lot of students attended classes though they were on their summer vacation. Singaporean and Vietnamese volunteers together made all lessons full of laughter and meaningful.
After this project, we always wonder if we really could make a small change for locals. Instead of giving away, we are so lucky to receive more from this project. “Spread the changes” project officially ended but we believe that this is just a beginning of a new journey in our lives. Thank you for creating 1612 project and bringing us to Hoa An Commune. We are also thankful for hospitable local people who taught us how to serve others. Finally, thank you for giving us a chance to meet and become friends with many strangers. This project will always be a part of our college lives. Thank you!
END OF FILE
But not end of life! Keep moving forward! And you’ll see!
Location: Phong Thạnh Commune, Cầu Kè District, Trà Vinh Province
Participant : 14 females, 4 males, 3 teachers from ST Andrew’s Junior College along with 3 Vietnamese volunteers (including 1 EVG member)
+ Built 5 water tanks .
+ Taught English for local primary school’s kids.
+ Give rice for local family
+ Attended Environmental Workshop
BEE is a community project in Phong Thanh commune with the participation of 14 female, 4 male students and 3 teachers ST Andrew’s Junior College with 3 Vietnamese volunteers support (including 1 EVG member)
This project has been constructed 5 water tank, taught English as well as organized library event for local primary school’s kids and had a warm sharing night between SAJC and EVG in Phong Thanh commune.
The First 3 days:
The morning of 5/6/2016, the Vietnamese volunteers along with Ms. Kim Yến (Project manager) gathered at Tan Son Nhat International Airport to greet the Singaporean students from ST Andrew’s Junior College. Although the first meet is unfamiliar, everyone was quick and happy to mark the first moments of the project with group photos, and be energetically ready for the project.
Then, everyone departed for Hoa Sen University to attend the sharing between EVG and SAJC at LIN center belonged to the university.
On 6/6/2016, the group departed for Phong Thanh commune. . After 4-hour travel , everyone was eager to help bring all the logistics for living and working into the storage area. Despite the tiredness, the settling of the group in the living area was quick.
First lunch at Phong Thanh commune after setting up living space.
The Welcome Ceremony was also organized by the local authority in a friendly and warm manner.
The work days in Phong Thanh:
After the Welcome ceremony, people started the series of work days. Among building, teaching and doing chores , construction works seemed to be the one that interested everyone the most. Not only walking a long distance from the living area , but also requiring patience and high techniques in mixing mortar, carring heavy brick, spading ,is it actually challenged for the volunteers to learn how to do it properly and the results were usually not as good as expected. However, with the maximum effort and passion for job, everybody quickly get accustomed with it and work more efficiency even more aesthetical. Eventually, everyone had built 5 water tanks, bring happiness for 5 local family in phong Thanh commune.
Teaching was also interesting. First, the volunteers was still unfamiliar when they taught for children because of their curiosity and lack of concentration. However, after understanding the children, the volunteers had performed very well and had wonderful and effective classes. Beside indoor class, there were some outdoor teaching activities conducting under fresh air. The student learnt not only theory but also its application through mini games during that time. The volunteers taught them about life, animal, tool and some physical as well as chemical experiments by using some easy-to-find material in daily life. They also make their students relaxed by combining some songs. Interacting with kids was no longer a challenge. At the end of the project, to see the kids use some English words we taught to describe simple things or just to greet us made us happy and emotional. Despite the short time we had there, at the least we had instilled the interest of learning English to the kids.
Team housework was also important.The volunteers had chance to go to the market with Ms Tu – Main cook at Phong Thanh commune ,where local culture embodied vividly. They had time to talk , cook, do chores with Ms Tu such as cleaning the toilets , mopping the corridor, clearing trash bin.Through that activities, people understanded each other more entirely. Singaporean volunteers also be taugt to buy fresh food in market as well as taste traditional dishes in Viet Nam.
During the final construction time, teachers and volunteers talk with local family which was selected to be built the water tank for. This activity brigded the gap, allowed Singaporean known more about Khmer people, their difficulty as well as their optimistic spirit at any time. The volunteers contributed together and then give a small but meaningful gift for family.
Giving gift for Ms Tu
For children, this was a good summer holiday with many interesting games and big presents. Library event also generate more space for parent having a chance to participate with their child in recreational area fulled of joy ans laugh.For volunteers, organizing this event allowed them to know each other. All people had worked together, prepare gifts and decorated game show space beautifully. The spontaneity and excitement of the children here helped the volunteers recalled childhood and feel more cherish this time which bring happiness to the children .
Sharing Night was organized in a cozy atmosphere, two groups EVG and SAJC sit around the candles which were light the project name “BEE”, and then together light up the candle and expropriate the emotions after working three days at local area with all of the memories and lessons during the project. The Sharing Session have left many emotions such as excitement, deep feeling and hoping that the project could be extent to be able to experience more. Sharing sessions ended with the honest sharing, everyone went out together and played hard in a campfire atmosphere,dance freestyle and sang along to music and fired hard together in the last night.
… and there was still many other precious moment not be spoken out yet. Seven days with everyone in 16S2 project actually made impression and unforgettable memory. EVG volunteers be more friendly trough reflection and working time. Say goodbye to Phong Thạnh , but love, friendship, sharing and meaningful anniversary will always stay in the volunteers heart.
III. Volunteers sharing:
This is the first project that members from V-team participate. We were excited and worried at the same time, maybe because the definition of “Service Learning” is still new to all of us. Despite having received helpful training and many advices even of smallest activities, we worried that we wouldn’t complete the project nicely, wouldn’t accomplish the learning outcomes from S-team, and there were many other nameless fears.
The first day when we welcomed and picked up members from Singapore at the airport, the teachers and students of S-team immediately made us feel the friendly, cheerful atmosphere and a high spirit of learning. With the guidance of the teachers, the students of S-team participated under discipline, self-awareness and punctuality. Every day, the teachers always created chances for the students to improve leadership ability by giving the students the leader roles in many work groups. Furthermore, the teachers and students of S-team supported V-team a lot, whenever a guy saw any girl from V-team being busy with lots of items, he would give a hand immediately and they always asked to help the V-team. Well, we can say that they are our extremely nice and cute friends.
In building activities with the locals, they firstly paid attention to every movement of the locals and then started. There were times they were not satisfied with their work, but it’s great how they didn’t give up, they continued on learning and started again. Everyone dispelled the hot afternoons by singing hot songs and sharing their stories, many laughters made us not feel tired anymore, no matter sunny or rainy days. Looking at the faces glistened with sweat under the blazing sun and the satisfying smiles when the cement water tanks were built, you somehow can understand our feeling: a proud and great feeling after using our strength to contribute to bring a better life for people here, even just a little. And we can’t forget to mention the interesting English lessons, even though this is vacation time and the number of children came to class not as much as in the academic year, but the S-team still prepared lesson plans carefully. The content of each lesson is very interesting, accompanied practical exercises to help the children more understandable and more excitement for learning English. Each lesson is very rewarding and funny with the children, even though the S-team group didn’t communicate with childrens in Vietnamese, but the language barrier was not a problem when people put all their mind in every lecture and every action. The voice reading aloud, shout with laughter and funny game in breaktime as well as bright faces of the children were always a priceless gift and were also the answer to all the efforts of us. The most meaningful event was “Library event” for childrens. In preparation for this meeting, V-team and S-team got together to brainstorm a lot of games and perform them. In early days of arrival, after dinner, all of peoples come form two teams gathered together, drawed, cut and paste some plates and necessary instruments. When we saw all of childrens try to decorated their own bookmark, carefully folded each origami animals, playing hard in the game hitting the ball, throwing the ball, the shiny face when they first put their hands with the ink on banner with the words “I will diligently read book” which left a strong impression for the team, what is the pleasure of seeing all this childrens with childish and cute face were played hard, learned and stayed with all of things they deserved to have. 3 days in local area was 3 days for us and them understand each other better, to share with them more about the suburb situation, beside the dynamism, modernity of the big cities is the other circumtances of the difficult environments that the people here are facing.
In spite of being busy with daily construction work, teaching, housework, the students never whined. Every night, we had opportunity to observe the reflection time under methodical guidance of the teachers, we learned many useful things: how the teachers question about the things they did during the day to evoke thinking, analyzing ability in different aspects, how to evaluate the activities they did in the day and what they had learn from those activities. Those reflection times are useful not only for the students of S-team but also the members of V-team, we can know our strengths and how to promote them and which points we need to improve to have more successful projects. Of the days, we missed the last night most-a warm sharing night of everyone. We talked about what we had learned, how much our thought had changed, which thing were most impressive and talked about many many other feelings. I am convinces that after this project, all of members have learned something, which can slightly change the lifestyle, the way of thinking about problems in life. If somebody ask me what else I still want, then the answer will always be: I want the project to last longer than 3 days with the local. 7 days are not enough for us to serve, to learn things, to understand people as well as for us to being closer. The project has ended for one week but its echo is still there and all the things we can learn from this project surely will be with us in the future.
Thanks you to all the members of ECO Vietnam Group, without your support, the project didn’t take place so smoothly. I hope to be able to participate in the upcoming projects.
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.
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.
Location: Hoa An commune, Tra Vinh province, Vietnam
Participants: 18 students from Nanyang Technological University –Hall 3 along with 4 Vietnamese volunteers (including 2 EVG members)
Teaching English for local students
GREEN ON IT is a community project in Hoa An, with the participation of 18 students of the Nanyang Technological University, 4 volunteers Vietnam including the support of two members of ECO Vietnam Group.
Project main task is to install a complete Biogas 6 bags for the local population; teaching English to children in primary schools as well as night Hoa An A cultural exchange and in Hoa An campfire.
At afternoon 23.05.2016, the group of volunteers in 1609 Yen (CEO EVG) is present at Tan Son Nhat airport to welcome groups of volunteers from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Despite initial difficulties the volunteers Singapore trouble during check out, everyone was trying to calm each other and when you move off the lobby everyone together photography, marking the first moments the first project.
Everyone then depart to the Nam Giao restaurant for dinner. Two groups of volunteers from the two countries have made the first exchange group dinner then move on Dinh Phat hotel so that you can rest and tomorrow morning early departure to Tra Vinh.
On 05.24.2016, all depart to Hoa An commune. When we arrived, everyone got together helped make the living supplies, shelter and work together to clean up the bed as well as living areas. Although very tired after a long move, but people are still very active and aggressive and complete the job. During the welcoming ceremony the delegation, despite heavy rain caused many difficulties, but finally took place smoothly.
Followed by bonding gaming activities exchanges between the volunteers EVG intimate and Singapore, we show you how to sing children’s songs Vietnam and then you just leave us a country song about the you. In addition to the cultural exchanges between the two countries, we are still together, playing some games.
Working days in Hoa An Commune:
Construction work seems to be the most feared people but also the most exciting part. Afraid of having to face the new ones that all ever where we live without, fear of doing wrong techniques in the installation of biogas systems and making it inoperable, afraid to face unexpected situations and cannot be resolved because the installation is located quite far households committee. But in the end our worries were easing by Mr. Thanh (construction expert), pay attention because skilled workers in installing the bag Biogas- who always travel with us throughout the project. Thanks to note that initial fear we have gradually replaced with excitement, excited to start work. We have learned many new things from a dig, tighten the screw, mixing cement to observing the surrounding terrain to ensure the safety of the whole team when under construction. But during construction, you can see injuries as well as depressed because bad weather caused many disadvantages during the construction, but in the hearts of each person will have to promote ourselves we must try to overcome, completion the job. During the first half of the project, we have encountered many difficulties and problems very embarrassing, should only be installed 2 bags for household biogas, but after the sit down between the two teams, find out solutions, we have successfully completed their projects and the results exceeded our expectations. I believe that building work is left in the hearts of each of us an imprint and most profound lessons.
Besides that, teaching jobs are also very interesting. The timing of our projects are in the summer so most children will go out with family and others will support the family did not have time to go to school. So we get stuck in the number of children going to school too little leads to the spirit of the other children are no longer enthusiastic anymore. But not as such that we neglect, we still try our best to convey good lessons for the children, organized activities, games in the classroom to encourage and promote the eager school more collective. The volunteers teach them simple things, appropriate to their age and need for life lessons such as communication, colors, cars or body parts …
Besides students are taught lessons kids fun singing combined with cheerful games create excitement and harmony between the volunteers and the students. Though not much teaching time but the volunteers have worked hard to convey the importance of learning English for the children as well as help them experience and enjoy learning more English. Besides, the volunteers also learned from them how to pronounce some words Vietnamese and childish creativity, cute in the hearts of children. Last projects and student volunteers split in nostalgia and look forward to a longer learning together.
Besides teaching and construction team, who do housework are also important. The volunteers her to meet her two- kitchen, jointly assist her in the cooking for the whole group but we are not much but people are becoming more and more intimate. Despite the language barrier between her two huge but S-team and you can understand each other and work very intimate and fun. Besides the volunteers NTU also tasted the dishes only in Vietnam.
In addition, we also visited the Khmer temples, the monks were dedicated to introduce to us the marks left from hundreds of years ago and from that time the story is recalled
An Hoa people have enthusiastically organized activities and sports exchanges between the local union and, despite having to walk very far to the playground and in bad weather, but both groups are very excited and have an online meeting football was fun.
Besides the fun activities, our delegation also deeply impressed with the operations visited poor households. But the gift of giving union households not great but it’s a take heart our desire that they would be happier knowing other social concerns and always encouraged them to rise to the occasion can live better.
Night Culture Night took place with many unique features of culture between Vietnam and Singapore. The two teamed with local students brought impressive performances, playful and contributed to the success of the night.
15 days of the project, while not long but not short, a new environment, new job and new friends have left us within your heart a lot of memories and profound lesson. The volunteers become attached EVG closer through reflection sessions for volunteers and Singapore too, we have to understand each other speak ki sat back to think and feel about our current issues that delegations are met. thereby fix and repair to complete the project better.
III. Feedbacks from volunteers: (Thao)
After participating in the project, I have learned and experienced many things that previously you never had the chance to face it. Although for myself I have not changed all that much, but my outlook towards life is now different. Kids learn teamwork, how to express thoughts, his feelings with people to solve difficult tasks or better. So after a meeting with the whole team EVG confession bags they were able to improve and continue his work better together as well as his experience and closer than before. Also during labor go, I also see in the sing you always have enthusiasm, learning. Whether you have been injured or tired, you still try to complete the work is unfinished. Moreover when you know the difficulty of EVG team is always ready to help you, but it seems that right from the start 2 team remained somewhat distance should not share with each other naturally. But after that project, everyone has to sit down and decide to share now is no longer a separate two teams, but only one team of volunteers are trying to complete the project with the highest possible effort. Have you tried to support each other in checking the logistic, courting each other in the set on time so as not to delay the work and encourage each other when trouble tired and sat down together to share the lesson or that you receive. To achieve 1609 results today, team bags they are also very grateful for the help from the organization, who have repeatedly supported the local down the bags they make these meetings to find a solution to solve the problem project that we are facing and thanks you so then we were able to understand each other better and work together to overcome difficulties and achieve before the results today. Also, thank you also helped me pay attention Thanh, job analysis in detail, as well as broader observations further to ensure the safety and still get the job done well. Besides the members of the team EVG you, I’m grateful to everyone for their help and always with you until the end of the project completed. Again, thank you so ECO Vietnam Group has created a very good environment for the young people like us are experiencing, is served as well as learn more from this community.
Location: Phong Thanh commune, Cau Ke, Tra Vinh province.
Participants: 3 EVG supervisor
28 Singaporean ( OVE hall 12, NTU) + 5 Vietnamese (volunteer)
+ Teaching English.
+ Build up playground.
+ Visiting poor households.
+ Culture exchange.
14:15:Mr Harry and 1 supervisor from EVG + 3 volunteers gather in Tan Son Nhat airport.
14:30: greet Singaporean team (Steam) + take picture.
15:00: depart to Phong Thanh.
20:00 – 21:30: clean the accomodation, restrooms and take relax.
24/5 – 03/6:
During 11 days: playground building, teaching, housing, culture exchange and poor house visiting.
For us, playground building is totally new but attractive. Although we prepared knowledge carefully, we face with many hardship and confusion. However, we put all forth and contribute almost the playground for Phong Thanh’s children.
This work is divided into some steps.
Step 1: wood preprocessing, rope tightening.
Step 2: tire painting.
Step 3: assemble and complete games.
For the first three day, we get difficulty of tools lacking and materials delay but later then, we spend at least 1h a day for replaning the routine that we mostly catch the right time for completing everything.
Besides that, it is difficult to use the machines for non – experienced volunteers. Nonetheless, we highly appreciate the support from EVG in hiring an expert and buying more tools for us.
In this project, we do learn much from each other. In some electronic failure days, both Steam and Vteam decide to take energy from nearby household. We are really good at team working and discussing. Thanks to this, our effort is more effective.
Weather is also an unexpected thing for us but all team members still stay strong and work hard. That is the memorable moments deepened in our hearts.
On the last day, we totally complete the swing, tire – mountain and we also check the safety and the using ability of them. Our time deserve the happiness and smiling of volunteers and children around
Teaching is considered as an important and full interactive activity that brings big experience for each member. The lessons and teaching tools are prepared carefully by Steam, Vteam support the teaching method and instruct for children.
In some days at the beginning, we are dissapointed and confused because of student quantity. It turns out the main reason that is rainy season so that families disagree for students to go to school. In more positive way, the number of student is markablly increasing later because of enthusiastic volunteers and interesting lessons.
This is also an important activity in this project. Housework team has a chance to explore and experience local culture through going to the market with the cook, prepare for the meals. Besides, this activity includes cleaning living area and toilets. Comparing to two activities above, this is not hard but skilful and meticulous are in need. This is also the fist time of many S-team member on cleaning toilets or washing dishes, however, they did a good job. In addition, when we have free time, we talk to each other to get closer and know more about our team members.
One of the successful tasks of this project is that event. We do organize and prepare everything of outdoor games and science activities. This event gets nearly 150 children and they are really happy as well as attracted.
Sport exchange and fishing
This time is for relaxing. There is no doubt that sport exchange makes the good heath and raises the solidarity among people. Fishing also gets a lot of fun, especially for first time volunteers. After that, the communication and feeling are more closed, tight and warm.
This is the exchange culture between both V-team, S-team 1608, 1610 and local people in Phong Thanh Commune. The performances are prepared and staged elaboratedly with the participant of non-professional actors has left many memories. The songs of the children are very cute, charming traditional dance, lively dance performances and collection of traditional costumes from all the volunteers were very impressive. The end of Cultrure Night are campfire, everybody dances ad takes photos together.
What do we think about 1608 project
Firstly, this project brings us various kinds of experience of building the playground, some necessary skills such as team work, problem solving,… Morever, we have made good friendship, the love among co – workers.
Secondly, we desire to share about the pre trip thinking. We almost worry a lot: language barriers (with Steam), building skills,… some of us are afraid to see and work with different language strangers. However, we overcome successfully. At first, we are thankful for Steam attitude. They are so nice and friendly. Despite the hardships we face, they are always beside Vteam, help and encourage us to keep working, create the warm environment to tighten the human love and working responsibility. That also helps Vteam learn the solidarity and wonderful team work of Steam. We also appreciate our members – Vteam. For some first days, we get problem not to understand and share the emotion, thought,… But later then, we sit together and frankly feedback for each member through the openess and solidarity spirit that we believe each person has been better, not only for project target but also for individual character. In addition, we feel respectful for EVG members, Harry and many hiding people that always take care of us, support the solutions for us when we are in conflict, give us the good treat that we woud never forget.
Lastly, we just want to say: Thankyou for everything. We hope that future projects for community are more going up for both quality and quantity. We hope that our young life would be more meaningful when we are confident to join, talk, share and work for society. Once again, we believe we will see you soon! Thank you!.
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.
Location: Phong Thạnh Commune, Cầu Kè District, Trà Vinh Province
Participants: 16 students from Nanyang Technological University along with 4 Vietnamese volunteers (including 1 EVG member)
– Teaching: 2 classes of students in Phong Thanh A Primary School, reaching nearly 30 students
+ 3 swinging horses
+ 1 teeter
+ 1 foot bridge
+ 1 string bridge
+ 1 table
Organized a library event for local children
Organized a Culture Night
The First 2 days:
The morning of 25/05/2016, the Vietnamese volunteers together with Ms. Linh from ECO Vietnam Group gathered at the airport to welcome the volunteers from NTU. Everyone greeted and quickly took a group photos, then moved onto the bus.
The group went to the restaurant for lunch at HoChiMinh city then headed for Phong Thanh commune.
At around 7pm, everyone arrived at the Commune. The group then had dinner and cleaned up things. Then, everyone helped out with arranging the logistics and sleeping areas.
On 26/05/2016, the group attended the Welcome Ceremony. After that, the Singaporean team moved to the new sleeping areas and received the Living Orientation. In the afternoon, the teaching team and construction team headed to their workplace.
The work days in Phong Thanh:
Construction seemed to be the most tiring and difficult job for everyone. We were supposed to finish 6 items for the playground, including swinging horses, string bridge, foot bridge, tires, table and teetars. We spent our time to doing things like cutting the woods, sanding the surface, screwing the components together and decorating. Everything started quite roughly at first because almost no one is used to the working tools and overwhelmed by the complexity of the items. However, when the volunteers became more familiar with the workload as well as when communication was improved, the group managed to finish what we can within our ability in the context of the current situation.
Teaching was also another interesting work during our days in Phong Thanh commune. Along with the sessions in classrooms, we also had sessions outdoor, which created so much fun and memorable moments for both the kids and the teachers. At first, the number of the students was much lower then expected. But then, with the efforts of everyone, more students came to class and the number even reached up to 20 once. It cheered up everyone and teaching ended up being the most favorite job to the Singaporean volunteers.
Along with teaching and construction works, housework was also an essential part of our time in Phong Thanh. The housework team played an important part in the project by making sure everyone came home to clean living areas and good meals. Going with the cook to the market also interested our foreign fellows.
Outside the primary works, the volunteers also had 2 household visiting sessions, during which we talked with the local people to get to know more about the stories of their lives, the way the get by, the struggles they are going through, etc. They were valuable moments that raised our awareness about the social responsibility as well as enabled us to appreciate what we have more.
We’ve got the chance to actually get into the water and caught the real fish with our hands. That day, more than 20 fishes were caught by us and we were the winner. It was by all means one of the strangest but most exciting moments as almost all of us had never done this before.
On Sunday, we had a sporting event when we played volleyball with the volunteers from 1608. Only a few of us knew how to play but we we did happily join the matches. At the end of the day, it was not about winning or losing the game anymore, and what really mattered was that we got to know each other more and had more friends.
It was for sure one of the most interesting parts of the journey, in which we had the chance to organize an outdoor event for the kids to have fun. The evening before the event day, we realized the local kids were not informed about the event yet. Then, the Vietnamese volunteers and the EVG members went together to the households and the library to inform the kids about the event. It was a huge joy for all of us seeing the children coming to the library that day. With our 3 games (and other games of 1608), we were able to get the kids engaged in the activities. Looking at how cheerful they were when coming home with gifts in their hands really makes us feel so happy.
Culture Night was the night of performances from the locals, EVG and also the Singaporean volunteers. The Vietnamese volunteers also joined with our Singaporean fellows in a song about friendship. It was definitely one of the most remarkable moments of the journey. After that, we had the campfire when everyone gathered around the fire dancing, singing and holding hands in friendship and unity.
Reflection and Bonding games:
We had only 3 joint reflections during the journey, during which we sit back together and shared with each other our feelings. Throughout the project, we tried to get closer by playing the bonding games known as BUDDY-BUDDER and Confessions. The moments when the BUDDER was revealed and the confessions was read out were definitely those that stay in our mind in years to come.
The duration of 14 days of project 1610 actually did leave us the impression, unforgettable memories and experiences. The EVG volunteers became closer and closer over the general meetings, working time and joint reflections, dissent to understand each other better day by day, to listen to self-improve and develop. Despite our leaving Phong Thanh, our sharing love, friendship, empathy… are always there in the palm of each person.
Location: Phong Thạnh Commune, Cầu Kè District, Trà Vinh Province
Participants: NEW HORIZON is the first project in which EVG works with American students, cooperating with Peacework organization. Participants are 5 students and 2 teachers from Hendrix College, 1 Peacework staff along with 4 Vietnamese volunteers (including 1 EVG member)
+ Finished 1 Kitchen at CVC. This kitchen will be used to cook free meals for local kids in the future.
+ Taught English for local primary school’s kids.
+ Conducted Mobile Library Service for local kids
+ Visited 4 difficult households and joined farming session which is guided by an agriculture expert in the commune.
The first 2 days:
17/05/2016, EVG volunteers and Ms.Mai Anh (EVG Vice President) met Peacework representative and Hendrix College teachers and volunteers at Cosmopolitan Hotel 191 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa St., Dist.3. We introduced ourselves and started to discuss more details about the project’s activities, then had dinner and went sight-seeing the sity by night.
18/05/2016, we departed to visit Tay Ninh Province and Cu chi tunnel.
The working days in Phong Thanh:
In the morning 19/05/2016, we departed to Phong Thạnh Commune. We attended Welcoming Ceremony and have a brief interview with Mr.Tuan – President of the Commune. In the afternoon, we went visit the local market and some households in the area to learn more about the life and the culture there.
The day later, volunteers started working.
It was a bit difficult for volunteers in getting used to building work. For most of us, that was the first time doing the construction. However, after taking good efforts observing and trying, we finally know how to mix the cement and apply it on to the walls. Later days, we were very excited in painting the walls with white paint, and all of us were happy seeing the achievement we had made.
Teaching English at primary school achieved good and positive results. Lesson plans were creative and teaching activities were very inspiring and fascinating to the pupils. There were songs, games and experiments to help the kids memorize new words as well as to help them learn more about physics, biology, and environment.
The Mobile Library Service for local kids was also effective and interesting. The purpose of this activity was to inspire kids to read books and, at the same time, let them interact more with the volunteers, therefore help them build self-confidence. We read out loud books, then acting some plays according to the stories in the books. The kids then also chose their favorite books and read them out loud. Local kids were excited, especially with the funny play “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” acted by Hendrix team.
In the last day staying in Phong Thanh, we had a farming session, guided by an agriculture expert in the commune. This helped us learn more about the agricultural activities there. Then we came to visit and gave some presents to 4 difficult households. People we met and stories we heard in each family leaf us with many deep thinking and feeling.
Final days in the commune were the beginning of rainy season in the Mekong Delta area. What our volunteers had worried about finally happened: the culture night which was supposed to be taken place at the Phong Thanh A Primary School yard had to be canceled because of the rain. But this, however, became what made the culture night of our project became such a special one ever. Being permitted to use the People Committee’s Hall, we all performed our best what we had prepared with the enthusiastic support and cheer from 1608 Project’s volunteers which were doing their projects at the same time in the commune. There were no professional sounds and lightings. There were no microphones and speakers. There were no speeches and reports. But there were times we volunteers of both projects came on stages to perform together. That was a great and unforgettable night because of friendliness and enthusiasm of multinational young ones, without differentiating between projects and nationalities. That was a real Culture Night!
We together sang and performed the Cup Song, with the rhythm and the lyrics which are now still replaying in our head:
“I’ve got my ticket for the long way ’round
Two bottle whiskey for the way
And I sure would like some sweet company
And I’m leaving tomorrow. What d’you say?”
Beside working days, volunteers also had the chance to discover the culture and lifestyle in Tra Vinh Province (in specific) as well as in the Mekong Delta (in general) by visiting local temples, Ba Dong beach, enjoying coconut candies, various kinds of fruits as well as traditional music performances in the four famous islands in Mekong Delta.
All of the above-mentioned activities, trips, experience, together with unforgettable reflection sessions, have become valuable lessons, great memories, as well as a special part of each volunteer’s youth.
III. Volunteer’s thought after project
(From Ngan Nguyen, volunteer of NEW HORIZON project – ECO Vietnam Group)
NEW HORIZON is my 4th project volunteering at EVG. It all started from an evening when I saw Ms. Chau – supervisor of my first project 3 years ago in Gia Bac shared Mr. Harry’s post about additional recruitment for NEW HORIZON project. I applied, received a phone call from EVG’s HR department within the night, and became volunteers for the project the day later.
It was quite a special project because it was the first project in which EVG worked with volunteers coming from America, with the cooperating from third party Peacework Organization. This not only created the new points for the projects but also challenged our volunteers because we need to figure out a clear and effective way to cooperate in work as well as to deliver information between parties. Moreover, the cultural differences between America and Vietnam are much more than between Singapore and Vietnam.
The biggest lessons I learnt during 16S1 project are: first – just only when you step out of your comfort zone can you know what you really can do; and second – the support from teammate is very valuable. That was the time when I really couldn’t catch up the whole team when we practiced for the cup song. I was about to give up, but then Mai Anh realized that, looked straight into my eyes and said “Jenny, don’t give up!”. I started to try again and in the end I could catch up with the others in just about 5 minutes later. That was in a reflection session when I admitted I was not good at kids, and the day later I could magically stand in front of the class and manage to have the pupils focus on the lessons. I even enjoyed playing with them later on.
One more special thing is that it was almost the same time like in 3 years ago, I was in Gia Bắc for my first project with EVG.
3 years ago was Gia Bắc, 2 years ago was Phương Thịnh, and this year is Phong Thạnh. I recognize that no where, no matter when, every journey does give me lessons, every project does change me and inspire me a lot.
Location: Long Duc commune, Tra Vinh city, Tra Vinh province
Participants: 21 volunteers from National University of Singapore and 5 Vietnamese volunteers (including 2 EVG members)
1.Tasks and achievements
– Install 20 water storage bags
– Teach grade 5 students in Long Duc B primary school.
– Visit 8 households
– Sport and cultural exchange with local youth
Activities of the project
Before the project
This is the very first time that everyone get to know each other so that there is a lack of understanding and integrity to support the team. Evrything to prepare for the project is a lot to name, whereas activities as well as stdy at university almost take up all the time, some are iverloaded with final exam. Therefore, too many deadlines have put a great pressure on them, and some feel a bit demotivated.Still, there is Han, who always supports us so each of us feel obliged to try our utmost to meet all requirements. Gradually, we seem to get closer and share the difficulties to work more efficiently. However, this is the first time we, all join in such an international project so that, we still lack experience in doing report, preparation in planning logistics list and action plan. As a result, all requirements and expectations of EVG cant be met. After finishing all the tasks, we just thought it fine. But when reporting with EVG representative, we come in for quite a lot of complaint and criticism. Since this is the first time that has to make the 3rd report, compared with other project just have to make 2. All of our team feel quite a bit worried. Before the project takes place, we all encourage one another that we will commit till the end at all costs.
During the project.
On the 1st day, we gather at Tan Son Nhat airport to pick Singaporean volunteers up. Everything went smoothly this the assistance of Ms.Yen from taking photos to directing them onto the bus to head for Long Duc commune.
We reach Long Duc at 8 pm. We altogether tidy up the sleeping hall, mop the floor and carpets. Everything is supposed to be finished at 12, but beyond expectations, Steam and Vteam collaborate extremely smoothly, and get thing done at exactly 9. During only 1 hour , everybody all get exhausted but still have fun and excitement.
On 16/05, the Welcome Ceremony was also organized by the local authority in a friendly and warm manner.
Then the group had its first household visiting session. All the life stories and sharing about everyday’s life of the locals were touching and eye-opening. They helped all the volunteers, especially the Singaporeans, to gain an insight into the living conditions of Long Duc commune as well as the cultural characteristics of southern Vietnam’s rural communities.
The first week was on installing water storage bags, despite the fact that each household has different location, as well as the extreme of weather, rain all day long, but no one cared. The two teams enthusiastically work their hardest with the They treated us coconuts, so that our spirit is always high, And it is really a success. They treated us coconuts, so that our spirit is always high, And it is really a success.
The next week was on teaching students in Long Duc B primary school. They are hardworking and study quite quickly so, the study flow is smooth and comfortable and fun as well. During the lesson, there is a co-opporation between the children and volunteers. All the students get engaged a lot and so excited, they attend class fully.
Moreover, sport exchange with local youth and culture night are fully attended with the presence of Vteam and Steam and local people . All activities are filled with excitement and laughter.
The last two days were spent on Rest and relax , the two teams took a tour around Mekong delta , Ben Thanh market and war remnant museum, These are the last time that Steam stayed in Vietnam before flying back to their country. Everyone was almost moved to tears, they feel touched by the colorful letters given out to one another, because they miss they time they spend together, of working and sharing all stories and reflection nights.
Thoughts after the project.
Though there are some obstacles in preparation as well as getting complained, we feel quite overwhelmed, but the project finally turns out to be fruitfull, quite a success and a fulfillment to what we have been through. Vteam and Steam get closer and there is a lot to remember about 1606.