1406-Heartstrings Project

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About :

  • Project: HEARTSTRINGS – 1406
  • Theme: Bring love from heart to heart
  • Time: 26/7/2014 – 05/08/2014
  • Place: Phuong Thinh commune, Cao Lanh District. Dong Thap Province.
  • Participants: 18 students from Nanyang Technological University – SCE, 6 Vietnam volunteers and other members of ECO Vietnam Group

Achievements:

  • English teaching
  • Construction of Kindergarten school building
  • Poor families visiting

HEART STRINGS is the last project of ECO Vietnam Group at Phuong Thinh commune, in association with Nanyang Technological University – SCE, the official participation of 6 Vietnamese volunteers and the help of other EVG members, to improve life of villagers, specifically the children in Phuong Thinh commune, Dong Thap province.

The main activities of the project are the construction of kindergarten building, teaching the students of Phuong Thinh 2 primary school English, visiting the poor and perform for Culture Night for the children and the people there.

Project timeline

Day 26/7/2014:

  • 08.00: 6 Vietnamese volunteers and Harry (EVG’s founder and advisor) gathered at Tan Son Nhat airport.
  • 0900: Vietnamese team met and took picture with Singaporean volunteers at the airport.
  • 0920: Leave Airport for Cao Lanh via one 45-seater bus. Breakfast eaten on the bus: Vietnamese Meat Bread & Plain Water.
  • 1300 : Arrive at Cao Lanh. Lunch in A Chau restaurant. Change from 45-seater bus to two 16-seater buses
  • 1400: Depart to Phuong Thinh Commune.
  • 1600: Arrive at Phuong Thinh Commune. Settle down – Unload belongings and setting up of logistics(if any) at the right place.
  • 17.00 : V.Team 1405 and 1406 meeting.
  • 17.30 : Dinner.
  • 22.00: Set up sleeping area and then lights out

Day 27/7/2014 – 2/8/2014

The main jobs in 7 days here were: Building a kindergarten, knitting and cleaning the doors; housework; teaching daily in Phuong Thinh commune.

HOUSEWORK

This is implemented by a group including 3-4 Sing Volunteers and 1 Viet Volunteer every day; it was changed alternatively every day. The main tasks were: setting up of meal tables, cleaning up of meal tables, washing up of dishes, cleaning up bed zone and restroom twice per day( morning and afternoon). In addition we had to support the local to prepare, pre-processing food and dessert, plus we had to change the rubbish plastic bag daily, and clean up the area around the commune hall.

The essential facilities for work had been supplied adequately. Various job scope were  assigned .As most people were not familiar with household as washing dishes, cleaning, sweeping of floor… the housework portion did not receive desired result for the first few days. Meanwhile, during mealtime, both project leaders had conflicts over the dishwashing errands. However, as we got more used to the job scope, the volunteers were able to collaborate and work more efficiently. The cleanliness of the house and living areas were cleaned met the required expectations.

Results: Commune hall were cleaned up, and everyone took responsibility of their job scope, and everybody motivated each other.

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BUILDING KINDERGARTEN

It was the last few days of the building process, and we were constructing the buildings in the morning and afternoon daily. At the beginning, we all had many difficulties as this was the first time we did construction work. The construction looked simple but in actual fact it was quite difficult and took up a lot of our time. We mixed the cement, filled up the filler exterior on the walls and painted the walls and windows. Some members climbed up to the scaffoldings. These work required precision and had to be done in a cautious manner. After a few days, we got used to the work and did everything faster with more efficiency. Moreover, due to excellent job allocation, we were able to cooperate smoothly.

 

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Result: Everyone worked hard to finish the construction in time, and prepared for the opening ceremony. Everyone felt glad and proud when the kindergarten was completed. We all learned about values such as being patience and not to give up easily. We understood the importance of teamwork and how to operate as a team, covering up for each other’s mistakes.

CULTURAL NIGHT

The Cultural Night took place from 1900 to 2000, including:

ü 1 performance from Phuong Thinh Primary School

ü 1 performance from Phuong Thinh Commune Youth Union

ü 3 performances in 1 musical from NTU SCE

ü 1 performance from NTU OVE

ü 1 performance from V-team Project 1405 and 1406

ü Camp Fire

Result: All performances were well-planned and everyone was engrossed in the warm and friendly atmosphere. There were a lot of kids and residents that come for the the culture night. Overall, the program was a success.

TEACHING

The teaching portion was done concurrently with the construction of schools. There would be 2 members of V.team combining with some members of S.team to conduct the lessons together. In the first day, the size of whole class was 24 children, consisting of many children aged 8-10 years old. They were very obedient students. On the following day, the size increased gradually to 30-31 children till the last lesson. Most of them were attentive and joined all the activities enthusiastically in class. Teaching the students work was not too difficult but it required the volunteers to spontaneously modify their teaching method for the students to understand better. The volunteers were able to motivate the children to learn, and whenever the children had problems, volunteers had to be proactive in answering to the needs of different children.   The volunteers showed great patience and enthusiasm during teaching and therefore, it requires that every volunteer had to have patience and enthusiasm with children. Volunteers tried various methods to communicate and catch the children’s attention during lessons. They end off with a sharing session with the children, encouraging them to be more positive about life, and understand more about the situation of their own families. The children were glad to be taught by all the volunteers and we forged a strong and emotional bond with them.

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Results: The children learnt basic English communication phrases(greetings, family vocabulary, colours, transportation…) Both volunteers of S team and V team understood the children more, as well as knowing more about the daily situation in remote Phuong Thinh commune.

VISITING POOR FAMILIES

The group was divided into three small teams; each team visited at least one poor family. Each family has different difficulties. We were there to understand more about the people in Phuong Thinh, as well as to give them token of gifts.

Result: Everyone was able to achieve their goal of visiting at least one family. We understood more about their life and we hope we can motivate them to be more optimistic about their life.

Thoughts about the project:

A member from NTU-SCE:

“It was a very meaningful project!  We hoped to have inspire their life by exposing them to one more Language, English! Hopefully this exposure will ignite the passion in them to continue to learn English” – Lindsey Tan (NTU-SCE)

 Thoughts of V.team – Volunteer of ECO Vietnam Group:

To talk about the project and Phuong Thinh commune:

To the project, I would sum it up in few words for it: awesome, learning, experiencing.

As with regards to Phuong Thinh, the two words I thought of would be : Difficulties, and insufficient.

During the first days of the project, sometimes, the intended plan and the list of things to- do become burdens on our shoulders. We were really nervous every day.  We (V.Team) had to work with our passion and have to forever responsible. We must also have patient and not forgot to keep learning to deal with unforeseen circumstance such as the lack of resources in the venue, different situations in the activities and also to deal with everyone’s emotions. Adding onto that, we have to adapt to the different working manner of S-team.

S-team motivated us and kept me moving forward, and in the end we were able to achieve our objectives. We worked a team.

After the project, I have been thinking a lot about my English vocabulary, and I feel the need to improve. We also think a lot about the different between cultures and educations, attitudes and working style with co-operators. We have grown up after joining this project. This could be one of our first stepping stone in life, as we stepped out and interact with the world.  It is a wonderful first-time experience for the Singaporean volunteers and the V.team, working together hand in hand.

We would like to thank EVG for letting us to join this great project, as we learn new things and establish new friendships – which V.team will cherish for a lifetime.We wish everyone in the project to have a meaningful life ahead.

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1405-Warm Smiles Project

About the project:

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Building of Kindergarten

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

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

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  • Teaching:

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

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

  •  Auction item

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

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

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  • Housework

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

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

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

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  • Culture night

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

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

Thoughts about the project

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

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

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

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