OCIP, Gia Bac
From 16 to 23 November 2013, a group of twenty Year 5 students and two teachers went to Gia Bac, Vietnam. This overseas community involvement trip is a collaboration effort between Dunman High School Community Service Club (DHS CSC), Deks Air Travel & Tours and ECO Vietnam Group (EVG). ECO Vietnam Group is a non-profit voluntary organization with the aim of promoting voluntary service as well as sustainable community development in Vietnam. The organization has been providing opportunities for many groups of tertiary and high school students from both Vietnam and Singapore to interact while working together on various projects in rural villages of Vietnam. For the past five years, it has maintained a sustained presence in Gia Bac, a village in the central highlands of Vietnam. This is the fourth year that the DHS CSC has organized an overseas community involvement trip to Gia Bac Village.
Before the trip, the students collected used clothes, bags, notebooks and new toothbrushes from family and friends. They also prepared teaching materials (like posters and models), games and prizes for the children of Gia Bac. During the trip, the students’ work fell under three broad areas — construction, community activity and education.
Under the supervision and guidance of two professional construction workers, the students helped to build a toilet and a bathroom in the compound of a villager. For our students, this was the first time they handled wheel-barrows, shovels, trowels, cement and bricks. They had to learn fast and work as best as they could with the tools. The physical demands of the construction work also taught them to be more appreciative of construction workers in Singapore.
The students also had a chance to harvest coffee beans in a plantation. They were aiding a family in harvesting and they managed to clear 42 coffee trees. Harvesting was rather strenuous and the students realized the importance of cooperation and camaraderie in such repetitive menial work.
The students also delighted the children of the village primary school by teaching them to make simple musical instruments. With the use of posters which were designed and printed by themselves, the students also shared good habits of hygiene like washing hands and brushing teeth with the children.
During this trip, the students took turns to perform daily duties like washing toilets, helping out in the kitchen and washing dishes. They also conducted a relay race for the children of the village. Soft toys and instant polaroid photos were given out to the children as prizes. Before leaving the village, the students had a chance to visit three households of the village. They brought gifts of rice, sugar, oil and clothes to the three homes.
The trip culminated in a Vietnam-Singapore Culture Night held in the village primary school. Performances were put up by the teachers and children of the primary school, the Vietnamese volunteers and the Dunman High students.
“What this taught me is that sometimes, benefits cannot be seen immediately, hence efforts have to be sustained. Thus, it motivates me to continue serving the community, and understand that once-off efforts are not enough.”
13Y5C43 Tee Jia Xin
“When trying out new experiences for the first time, we should be bold and dare to step out of our comfort zone. It is important not to let our preconceived ideas and fears limit us from experiencing more. Trying out new things for the first time, more often than not, provides us with a whole new perspective that can be applied to other areas as well.”
13Y5C32 Tan Wei Xuan
“I have also learnt that we should not just be focused on completing the task, but we should also step back and take in the experience and embrace the process of doing so in order for our take-away from that activity to be much more significant.”
13Y5C41 Lim Zheng Yi
“I am definitely proud to say that this trip has made me see the nobleness of social work and admire the magnanimity and benevolence of people with a strong determination to make the world a better place.”
13Y5C11 Gien Si Yun
“Like any other job, doing construction work requires a certain set of skills mastered through practice and experience. Moreover, construction workers have to work under the hot sun with higher risk of being injured. Yet, they are neglected and even discriminated in our society. The hard work they put in is not less than anyone else working and thus should be treated with equal respect.”
13Y5C34 Ong Xiao Qi