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.
- Completing the Kindergarten with an open ceremony
- English Teaching
- Making “Non la” for auction selling
- Culture Night
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.