Vinh Long Community service project – Renovating a school

This is among a series of stories we tell you about our Vinh Long Community service project. We come to Vinh Long to renovate a school which is too old and we hope to bring safety and new studying environment to the lovely students here.

Our group stays at a backpacker hotel right in the middle of Hochiminh City. Though we share three or four people per room but it’s quite OK for a good a price and a great location. It is so centrally located and we can walk around for visiting city highlights like war museum, presidential palace, temples, opera house, central post office and other beautiful stuffs.

Today we head to Mekong Delta on a public bus for a Vinh Long Community service project. The bus goes fast on a highway over green rice farm stretching to the horizon. We have a lot of talk about Mekong life, Mekong people and background why we should come there. We stop halfway at a local stopping point. We learn many new types of tropical fruits that we have never seen in our life. We even don’t remember all of those names. We just recognize that the food life is much bigger than our imagination. We reward ourselves with some local ice-cream.

We arrive hour homestay of Mr. Tam around noon. Just after a short check-in into our rooms, we meet him and his wife Ms. Sau for a welcome in the family. The lunch comes after with local food. It is a true Vietnamese lunch cooked by Ms. Sau. She only stay at this town and even rarely come to Saigon then she knows nothing about Western food. It’s yummy anyway. She also picks oranges from garden and we love it. Mr. Tam has a big garden of fruits and oranges are countless. We have also enjoyed 5 full day meals with orange juice from that garden. Possibly it helps us to stay stronger.

After lunch we have a small nap before starting our Vinh Long Community service project. Every body here do that as it’s hot at noon and a siesta is great to recover after that travel from Hochiminh city.

We head to the school where we run our Vinh Long Community service project by boat. That’s a lovely way of transporting as our boat goes along green canals, passing many other boats, along many houses with local lives along the river bank. We even see things and people in the house along the river as most of houses stay just by the river bank. We have transport to the school among the lush great of Mekong and authentic Vietnamese life exposure.

As arriving the school, we come to meet students, teachers and the principle for the initial introduction. We also meet our master builders and local people who come to help a hand to renovate the school. We quickly start out working with big enthusiasm. First we move sand from outside to the classroom to make the floor higher. It will help much when flood comes. The floor should be higher than the regular flood and high tide. Secondly, the master builders throw tiles from roofs to the ground. The tiles are so old and this is the reason for leaking at raining time. We smash the tiles into small pieces and make them even on the new floor of the classroom. It looks simple job but it needs a lot of energy from us.

After finishing two classrooms, we decide it’s done for the first day. We return home by the same boat along the same routes of canals. However, it’s higher tide than noon time and we need to walk a bit farther than before. This is even greater because we have chance to walk across beautiful tropical fruit gardens of local people.

We are so hungry and after the shower we all head to the tables and sit to wait for the dinner. It’s beautiful food again though we are really not sure what we are eating. What do you think about our first day of Community service project Vinh Long?

Vietnam service learning in Mekong – Build a toilet – First day

Today we start one of the most exciting days of Vietnam service learning. We participate in a community service program in building a toilet for a local primary school. The school has no toilet and we will help around 60 children to have a place to answer the natural call of their body: just go to pee.

This is really not a big think at Western countries but a real big problem for children at most of schools in rural Vietnam. There is no toilet or toilet is too bad to go to pee. School time in Vietnam is often 3-4 hours and students do not go to pee within this period. This leads to health issues at kidney. And adults does not drink enough water as they keep the habit of drinking little water at their childhood so as they don’t have to have demand to go to toilet at school.


We have a taxi drive from our characteristic hotel to the bus station to catch a pubic bus to Ben Tre Mekong Vietnam. Getting on public bus is special experience. It is cheap to save cost to our project. It is also a good observation to understand more the local people. The bus drive takes us thru the huge green rice farms of the fertile Mekong rice bowl of Vietnam. After some more great view of rivers, canals, farms, we arrive the local house of Mr. Muoi where we have homestay for our Vietnam service learning experience.


That’s a little man with small eyes and big smiles. He welcomes us to his house. We look around his house and his big garden, and then arrange every people to beds in the house.

After a lunch of steam rice with fish and pork in claypot cooked with coconut, we walk to the boat quay and cruise along beautiful green canals to the site of Vietnam service learning project. That’s a great boat trip along the river of Mekong and it amazing canals. The view is so beautiful with water coconut ranges aong those canals. We see many local factories of brick production, fish processing or other kinds of factories. On the river, there are many local boats back and forth for their distinctive transportation way. There are also fishing nets, fishing traps, sand badges, and local boats full of local fruits from gardens to market.


As arriving the community project site of our Vietnam service learning, we have some introduction to the master builders, the teachers and the local people there. We also have a brief on what to do then start to participate in building the toilet immediately. We carry sand from canal to the building site. We load bricks to the right location. We learn to mix cement with sand for a good mortar. We lay bricks with mortar, and build a real toilet.


There are many local people coming to visit us because they are so surprised about this. There is also a lady with invitation to her house to have some coconut drinks. And we feel quite excited to visit her house with the promised beautiful taste of the fresh coconut right from the trees. After the time at the project, we go along lush gardens of tropical fruits, along trails at villages and visit her house. She asks her brother to pick a lot of coconuts at the garden. We have not only the taste of good coconut, but also the hospitality of the local and the special visit to such an authentic life style of Vietnamese Mekong Delta.


On the way back, the surprise does not finish. We have low tide then we should have a short walk across gardens to the place our boat can pick us up. The beautiful sun beam makes our walking so adorable. And what is more, we end the walking at a local house where they make pickle lemon for Vietnamese drinking flavor, and we learn one more way of Vietnamese food, as well as interact more with local people.


That’s a long day but it’s a great day of beginning the service learning experience in Mekong delta Vietnam.

Vietnam School Tour Mekong – Nature and Daily Life

Mekong Delta Vietnam is a so beautiful place with green nature and distinct daily life. The Vietnam School Tour Mekong is then the must do tour for groups coming to the South. Some of our programs includes community service project in Mekong, and that’s wonderful. We have full time integrating into the green beauty of Mekong, as well as touching the the culure of mekong people. This is also one of the poorest area in Vietnam, then the community services are true helps to change the lives of local people.

In some programs we have community services at other places, we also visit Mekong in one day. Then we can enjoy the special highlights of this land.

Mekong Delta in Vietnam is a land of maze of canals. The main river separates into 9 rivers like nine dragons in the local legends. Canals from those 9 rivers make lush beauty of the land. Boating into the canals in a Vietnam School Tour Mekong is great experience then. In this picture, students wear the conical hats which are a traditional hats of Vietnamese women.

Vietnam School Tour Mekong

What can students see along the cruise at Vietnam School Tour Mekong ?

Firstly, among that background of canal life, students can visit the floating market which are places many boats gathering on the river to buy and sell and barter fruits and vegetables from their gardens. Students can learn stories of mobile lives on these boat, especially chidlren, which poor condition of education. Enjoying the amazing beauty of the floating market, students also get touched with the stories of lives.


Seeing floating market, we need to sit on small boats going into the crowd of those thousand boats and see the bargain and exchange happen.


Secondly, faces of children along the cruise make bright side of the experience. Among the poor houses with limited condition of living, we even see the most sparkling smiles. The happiness can be transferred from the poor children to our students.


Thirdly, seeing life along the cruise is a better lesson than any in the classroom. We can see people do housework. We can see them do business. The exposure can be also hygen condition of life, family daily life activities, fishing from the river, ferries and the local etiquettes, etc. Those are real beauties that not any book of culture introduction can be better.


Forthly, visiting local businesses in a Vietnam School Tour Mekong is an opportunity to understand more about locla life. In addition to having income from fishing, from rice farming, students can see how the local earn. Students can visit a brick factory and learn the whole process of making brick in Vietnam, especially with material and techniques from local experts.


Experiencing Vietnam School Tours, students can eat alot of foods from rice, especially noodles. Visiting such a factory making noodle is also able to amaze students.


How about popcorn? Do Vietnamese eat popcorn at cinema? We probadly don’t and we use rice instead. Visiting a family making poprice is also great chance to understand local snack. We can see how they we roast rice, how we process with a three generation business. We also can sit down and enjoy those beautiful sweeties among the atmosphere of Vietnamese house.


Fifthly, Mekong canals are full of water cocot nut. Having a sampan rowing along these peaceful canals and being away from noise of modern life makes the most tranquil feeling of getting lost in nature.


Sixthly, our Vietnam School Tour Mekong can stop at a locla house and enjoy folk music of Mekong people that has been acknowledged as Immaterialism World Hertage by UNESCO. We might not understand the lyrics of the songs, but we enjoy the melody as well as ways Mekong people act via scenes at the music show.


Seventhly, we think visitting local house are of most discovery feeling for our students. We touch true local life and we meet cuties like in the picture below.


Among our walking and cycling along trails at Mekong delta Vietnam, we can stop any where at a locla house and drink some very fresh coconut from them. We can relax but still discover daily life around, even just by endulging yourself into a hammuck and looking around.


Ninethly, we have many challanges in Mekong and with friends around us, we can overcome those. Eating durian is an example of that. Imagine we visit a garden of durian and learn how they plan those. And of course we might be invited by the host the durian. And hahahaha…


Last but not least, it’s so beautiful to interact with local kids.  Some are poor and some are better. However, they will come around with smiles. Though langguage can be a barrier but we believe cobversations are not big problems at all.


Vietnam School Tour Mekong trip is of more things to discover. Don’t miss this when coming to South of Vietnam in your once for a life time trip.