1405-Warm Smiles Project

About the project:

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Building of Kindergarten

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

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

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  • Teaching:

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

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

  •  Auction item

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

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

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  • Housework

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

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

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

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  • Culture night

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

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

Thoughts about the project

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

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

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

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1402 – Wings Project

About the project:

  • Wings Project
  • Time : 27/4/2014 – 11/5/2014
  • Place: Phuong Thinh Commune, Cao Lanh District, Dong Thap Province.anh5
  • Participants: 37 students of SMU (Singapore Management University); 5 Vietnamese volunteers and others members of ECO Vietnam Group.
  • Achievements:
    • Completing a EVG love house
    • English Teaching
    • Finance Teaching for local youth
    • Constructing 1km road
    • Culture Night
    • House visiting

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  1. Meetings – Tonight, we are young.

Although we are prepared to not sleep before midnight during our project, the actual feeling of having minimum sleep was really a test to us mentally and physically. It was 5.5hours of sleep on the first night. 4.5 hours of sleep on the second night and 3.5 hours of sleep on the third night. Sometimes, we could not even recognize our faces in the mirror, what was all these hard work for? It was the legendary Reflection Night, with the Sing-team and Viet-team, ending off with the leader meeting.

  1. Tears – What is  pressure?

I was crushed under pressure for the very first time in my life. Mr Harry was not there, he was my helping hand, my support for every mistake I made in the previous projects, but he was not there. This was my first time being a project manager, and I can feel the huge responsibility on my shoulders. I had to deal with Sing-team when they called off the Finance-class for the local youth, I had to deal with both team to break the ice and overcome the invisible wall, I had to fix thing right. I asked myself, ‘Why did I have to do all of this? Why should I take all of this pressure for nothing?’  I answered that question myself, ‘It is because I am young, because this is my community, I wanted to grow, to learn, and to give as much as I can, since life is short.’
Nevertheless, I realized I was only 21, and suddenly I felt powerless. I cried, cried for every little hardship I have to deal with daily. However,  many told me to persevere on: “No pain, no gain.”

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  1. V team Members – Warm from inside

I am lucky to be in this project, I have an amazing team. We supported each other, we care for each other. No matter how stressful it was during reflection time, they still paid attention to their teammate, they helped whenever and wherever it was possible. We were a strong team. I felt so warm inside despite the rainy season then.

  1. Sing team leaders

I was impressed by their leader, 4 different individuals, 4 different characters, but they had something in common which truly inspired me: detail planning, fantastic leadership and being meticulous to every team member.
It was the dry season in Phuong Thinh, and water supply was cut off from us every night. There was once, the 6 of us stayed up late till 3am just to discuss the solution for bathing.

5. Last project night

I always enjoy Culture Night at the end of every project. We danced around the camp fire along with stream of music. I felt young, I felt alive. THIS IS LIFE. It is now or never, I am not going to live forever, I just want to live when I am alive.

I want to join project like this, time to time, just to feel young forever.