Vietnam student tour Ben Tre – community service and local life – 2nd day

The second day of our Vietnam student tour Ben Tre in building the toilet happens with more operation in community service and touching more local life.

Vietnam student tour Ben Tre with touching more local life.

We have breakfast in the local house of Mr. Muoi. The main course is bread with eggs but we also taste new thing. We have coffee with condensed milk which is a very typical drink of local people in the morning. We also have some pomelo fruit, right in the middle of a tropical fruit garden, and listen to the story of Vietnamese coffee.  It’s great to know that Vietnam is a world leading country exporting coffee to the world when enjoying the right way of Vietnamese coffee drinking. The coffee is the first touch.

The morning walk along village trails takes us across gardens of tropical fruits. We see pomelo, jack fruits, rese apple and others. We arrive boat quay but visit a local market before taking the boat trip. The market is on the riverside for the ease of access by boat for all local people here. Most of local commodity is transported by boats, and local people also go here and there by boat a lot too. The local market is another very touch of our Vietnam student tour Ben Tre today. The market is amazing with local buying and selling all things for their daily life. They sell clothes, hats, hair wears, watchs and sourvernirs. All kind of tropical fruits, vegetables, agricultural products are ranged in the ground for any to buy and cook their lunch and dinner of that day. We also see butchers selling beef, chicken, pork, ducks in the

The hospitality of people in the market is the next touch to the local daily life. The sound hello hello are from anywhere, coming with smiles and laugh.

We have a walking into the market, visit many corners and going back to the boat quay for the cruise to our project site as normal.

Vietnam student tour Ben Tre with being a true builder.

Today we focus on building more walls for the toilets. We divide our team into groups with many functions. The first group is arranged to transport brick and supply brick to builders (who are master builders and us students). They are brick supplier. The second group continues transporting sand from the boat in canal to our site. They are sand supplier. Another group is responsible for supplying mortar. They mix sand, cement, and water with a percentage instructed by the master builders and bring mortar to us the builders. Our forth group lays bricks to make wall. It’s not difficult because the master builders have instructed us carefully and also make lines by fabric strings so we are able to make straight walls. More walls have come into being.

Rain comes but people still work as we feel we enjoy building the toilet. Luckily it’s just a short rain and we are not wet with our hats.

Around 11:00 AM we stop for lunch. It’s hot and we have worked for a while and we need to have a rest too. We walk to a local house next to the school. They are ones welcome us and cook us the lunch for days we are here. The homestay is too far and it’s not smart to go back and return after lunch.

We come to the house, having some washing to make sure our body clean after being a true builder. We then got introduced to family members. We visit their house and understand their life belief with their family alters and things for their ancestors. That’s a great touch to their daily life.

We have good food or we are so hungry and we eat much or both. We don’t know, but we enjoy that very much. After lunch we have a nap on mats like any local people here with their daily siesta.

After more working in laying bricks to build the toilet are back to homestay by boat, along so beautiful canals with water coconut in the middle of honey sunshine of afternoon.

Vietnam student tour Ben Tre with cooking experience.

The last Vietnam student tour Ben Tre event of the day is a cooking experience. After having a cool shower, we all move to kitchen and the ost instruct us how to cook Vietnam pancake. We cook pancakes for our own dinner, and that’s fantastic.

It’s another long day of Vietnam student tour Ben Tre with service learning, but we are so happy to see many events, to meet many people, to visit many places, and to experience many new things to our life.

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.

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.


The road to future in a Vietnam educational travel




Service project: Construct a paved pathway

When: In March, 2013

Location of service project: In a small community in the Mekong Delta near Ben Tre  City. This community is named Thanh Thuy, belonging to Ben Tre province.

Description of the project:


We did construct a paved pathway for seven of the families in the community to access.  This project will be organized and supervised by Mr. Ba Phuong, a retired soldier and experienced in this area.

Why this project was important?

At this point, it is impossible for the seven the families that live at this edge of the village to afford a paved pathway.  They commute via motor bikes, bicycles and by foot so it is very difficult to do so, especially during the rainy season when the dirt path turns to mud.  This project will greatly assist the community, facilitating an easier way to travel. The villagers will find it easier to transport rice back home by bikes. More services will be able to approach these families such as home appliance repairing. The rain season witnesses a lot of people fall down from bike and even walking. This paved road is far safer, especially for children and school pupils. The road is also a shortcut for villagers to go to the rice farmer faster, then this saves their time for rice field job.  Additionally this project will be a wonderful chance to connect with our service community as we will get a real taste of the family ambiance and have the chance to work side by side with locals.

Why was this project chosen over other potential projects? Exactly the villagers have several things that needs our help. We chose the paved road because this brings the local not only convenience, the safety, the business development, but also the belief of a new road to go in life. The convenience is the ease  and fastness of transporting things home; the safety is for all not to fall down to mud, making clothes dirty and even making themselves injured; business development is to boost up more traffic.

Where there is a new road, there is a new way

What was entailed?

DSC_1334.jpg (400×602)


The path wasl be 574 feet/175 meters long and 23.6 inches /60 centimeters wide.  

We did

  • Clear and flatten the dirt path way  by carrying soil from a canal near there.
  • Cut steel rod and make frame for the road
  • Bring sand, rock, and cement from our vehicle
  • Create wooden forms to contain
  • the cement as it is drying,
  • Mix the cement with sand, rock, and
  • Pour the wet cement within the wooden forms to create the pathway.
  • Create barriers to prevent any people or animal towalk on cement

Who were working on the project with us?

  • Mr. Ba Phuong family ( himselves, his brother and children)
  • The member from 7 families
  • The master of builder who knows well the job