House for Ms Na on a Vietnam Student Tour

Project in Brief:

This Project has been done in Vietnam in March 2010. 5 international students and teachers on Vietnam Student Tour have come and built a house for an extremely poor family living in the heart of Mekong Delta Vietnam.

Location of service project:

This happened in a small community in the Mekong Delta near Can Tho City. This community is named Tam Binh, a hamlet at Vinh Long Province, Mekong Delta Vietnam

Description of the project:


Ms. Na in her house before our help

 Why this project?

In this Vietnam Student Tour, helping with the repairs on a local family’s house was really necessary, as the family couldn’t afford to do it themselves.  Without our collaboration they would have probably spent the next few rainy seasons with a lot of rainwater leaking in through their ceiling and flood in their dusty ground.  Additionally this project was a wonderful chance to connect with our service community as we did get a real taste of the family ambiance and had the chance to work side by side with locals.

Ms. Na was a lady who lived with her daughter and grand-daughter. She was a farmer with a small piece of rice farm and another small piece of garden to plan bind-weed. She had 2 more sons but one was very far away and the other was next door but extremely poor. Their house was so old that it couldn’t resist water at that wet season. Actually she had a preparation by saving money for a long while and bought 6 pillars for a new house. However, she has had a fall from her bed at midnight two month before and then half of her body can’t move, as well as all her saving has been gone.

We work under instruction of a master

Her food supply was now thanks to the little support from the poor son. The daughter was inborn crazy and had a child without father’s name.

Then these three people would have got wet from the roof since May 2010 and from high tide since Oct 2010 if we had not arrived this community.

 What we really did at the service project:

Fixing roofs that have been damaged by hard rains.

Fixing the walls to make the house completely proof from raining water.

We also make the ground to help to avoid the flood.

What was entailed in this Vietnam Student Tour?

Some of the tasks that we did do in order to repair the thatched roof include:

Disassemble the old house and save the good beam for the projects

Dig the holes to make bases for the house. Settle rocks there to make it strong

Erect pillars

Assemble beams to new frame

Hand roofing materials up to family members on the roof to settle metal roof on the beams

Build low brick wall at house ground

Carry sand from boat to the ground and make it strong and stable

Tie leaf plates to make wall of the house

Make doors also by leaf

Put brick on ground to make it beautiful flat ground

Resettle kitchen

Additional  tasks

We did make a chicken cage and buy this family a hen to start a new small business.

We did make a duck cage and buy this family 10 baby duck for a good business.

What was chedule?

10 March 2010: we arrive Mekong and make friends, get arrangement

11 March 2010: five will disassemble the house; the rest will dig bases and erect the pillars

12 March 2010: connect beams, settle roof and start to make the ground

13 March 2010: continue the ground, carry more sand to ground, make wall by leaves

14 March 2010: make doors, cement the ground

15 March 2010: arrange inside, settle the old furniture for her, grand opening, go back to Saigon

 Who were working on the project?

Everyone from the family participate in the project.  The uncles and two sons and other relatives contribute the most physical labor. Two neighbors also join the project since the second day.  On top of those, we have a building master who instructs us what to do, arrange people’s responsibility (and fix the tasks done by us in not a way it should be done).

Length of working days and hours:

The group arrived near the host community on March 10th and there were 4 full service days and a half in the community (March 11-14).  Our daily schedule starts at 8:00 AM in the morning and then had break for lunch at 11:00 AM. The afternoon shift starts at 1:30 PM and ends at 5:00 PM).

Other activities at the community host at our Vietnam Student Tour:

Visit a pagoda and explore Buddhism at the community

Cycling along trails of the village

Boat trips at the maze of canals to get the introduction of the life in Mekong Delta

Boat trip to the floating market, a special feature at Mekong Delta Vietnam

Deliver gifts to school boys and girls nearby

Listen to Mekong folk music



All the materials, including rubber boots, work helmets and work gloves were provided in Vietnam.  Some students did like to bring donations to the community school supplies (notebooks, pens, pencils) and that was a so much fun time to interact with local schools kids.


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