During the June school holidays this year, twenty Year 5 students and two teachers of Dunman High School went to Gia Bac, Vietnam. This overseas community involvement programme (OCIP) is a collaboration effort between Dunman High School Community Service Club (DHS CSC), Deks Air Travel and Tours and ECO Vietnam Group (EVG). ECO Vietnam Group is a non-profit voluntary organization with the aim to promote voluntary service as well as sustainable community development in Vietnam. ECO Vietnam Group has been working closely with Deks Air in some rural villages of different ethnic groups in Vietnam. Together, these two organizations hope to create a platform for international volunteers and local volunteers to learn from one another so as to improve their own skills.
This is the third year that the DHS CSC has organized an OCIP trip to Gia Bac, a village in the central highlands of Vietnam. The EVG has maintained a sustained presence in Gia Bac for the past 4 years. This year, the EVG started a community library in the village.
Before the trip, the students raised funds and collected used items from family and friends. They also prepared teaching materials, games and prizes for the children of Gia Bac. In Gia Bac, the students’ work fell under 4 areas — construction work, library work, English lessons and Be A Guardian project.
For construction work, under the supervision and guidance of a professional construction worker, the students built a perimeter fence for the compound of the community library. They also constructed the living quarters of the library staff of the library.
For the library, they re-arranged the shelves, catalogued the books and decorated the interior. They also planned and carried out activities like story-telling, balloon sculpturing and craft workshops in the library for the children. These activities attracted many children, promoting interest and awareness for the library.
English lessons were also conducted in the premises of the local primary school. Much effort was put in to conduct lessons that were lively and hands-on. The students also organized ball games and mass games where they played and interacted with the children.
A select group of students were also involved in producing a video for the Be A Guardian (BAG) project. The BAG project is a sponsorship/bursary programme for top high school students from Gia Bac. The DHS students filmed, edited and produced a video to promote the BAG project.
The OCIP trip culminated in a Children’s Day Celebration on the last night in Gia Bac. Performances were put up by the children of Gia Bac and the Dunman High students.
Below are excerpts of the reflections of the participants of this trip:
“The times when we sweated and tossed during the construction work and when we sang the ABC song will always be imprinted in my memories.”
12Y5C33 He Jingang
“I realised that I cannot and should not judge a person by how they usually look or act in school, because in times of crisis or difficulties, they are able to prove themselves better, and show a different side of themselves.”
12Y5C21 Ooi Chit Yee
“The most important lesson I learnt during the trip was that it is important to be able to think on the spot and we should know that things do not always go according to plan, but they can still work out.”
12Y5C41 Janice Chia Zuo Hui
“I got the opportunity to take part in the filming project, Be A Guardian Project, which was the kind of filming project I’ve always wanted to do. Using my passion in this area to help the kids get sponsors in order to go to school was extremely satisfying.”
12Y5C24 Felicia Liu Fangling
“Cleaning the toilet and washing so many dishes in the dark on the roof was a fresh experience that I will always remember.”
12Y5C24 Wee Jia Rou Alysson
“I feel even more determined now than in the past to make a difference in others’ life and lend a helping hand to those in other countries who need our help so much more.”
12Y5C41 Ng Qi Jing Regina
“There was a sense of happiness with accomplishment after the limited but considerable help that we have given to the villagers.”
12Y5C43 Patricia Tan Yan Dan
“Lastly, I learnt that we must not take things for granted. Their poor living conditions make me reflect on the amount of effort my parents and grandparents have put in to make my current living conditions possible.”
12Y5C35 Poon Ek Whye
“Though everyone had their own weird quirks and fears, I’m happy that we all took care of one another and did things in a group mentality by helping each other where needed.”
12Y5C42 Goh Shin Yi
“I have learnt to be more independent and have learnt to have more patience in everything I do.”
12Y5C44 Mah Looi Han
“I learnt to love my mother tongue more as I saw Mr Green trying so hard to learn Chinese and his determination touched me.”
12Y5C35 Yeo Pei Shan
“Instead of looking at what we have that the poor don’t, we should take a look at what they have that we don’t. For example, resilience, strength and flexibility.”
12Y5C35 Su Thiri Tun
“I learnt that teamwork and perseverance are the most important aspects that one must have in order to get the job done fast and well.”
12Y5C35 Ong Si Ying
“I saw the children of Gia Bac put in their best in studying even though the conditions there were less than desirable. I think we should all learn from them and be more appreciative of what we have here in Singapore.”
12Y5C34 Leow Si Bin
“I hope to be able to change their lives for the better, and the trip has allowed me to do so and has also spurred me to contribute greater to the less fortunate.”
12Y5C11 Poh Hong Kai Terence
“Throughout this journey, I have learnt to be strong, to be independent in anything that I do. Furthermore, standing out in the rain waiting to collect a pail for almost half an hour also taught me to be thankful for whatever we have in Singapore.”
12Y5C38 Soh Yi Xuan
“Whenever I am grudging against the heavy and stressful workload from school, I will remind myself that I am already very privileged to be able to receive formal education and for that, it is only right and dutiful for me to work hard and take pride in my work and school.”
12Y5C33 Yong Hui Li
“Everyone has their own shortcomings and throughout this trip I have learnt to face some of mine and to work with others as well. The experience is invaluable and memorable.”
12Y5C21 Cassandra Pee Xue Yi
“…this is really one of those times where I had a really great and unforgettable experience. The bonds that were forged between the guys during this period of time will not be easily broken…”
12Y5C42 Cheang Yiu Chi Melvin
“The family which we visited during the Home Visit … has taught me to be stronger, to soldier on even in times of hopelessness, and to deal with all life throws at you.”
12Y5C21 Lim Jun Cheng Arthur