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?

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 journey of a house – Community Service Project Vinh Long

In 2010 we starts our mission of connecting people by the first Community Service Project Vinh Long. We did make a great journey to give and to get at the community. The journey is full of emotion that we will never forget.

The first day for the Community Service Project Vinh Long.

We were a group of 3 students, 2 teachers and one project leader on a great trip of Community Service Project Vinh Long. We come to the town Tam Binh in one afternoon after a beautiful boat trip along canals and fruit gardens, old houses, folk music and fantastic fish dish. Vinh Long is a famous province for tropical fruit gardens. Our project and homestay are around fruit gardens too.

Community service project Vinh Long (4)

After the bus stop, we should walk a while along a cement road to come to the house of Ms. Na where we did have inspection before and decided to share a hand with her. We made her a new house. Along the trail, every body said hello to us from in the middele of nowhere. That made us so happy.

We came to her house and, as Long described before, it was completely rugged, and we needed to fix that before the raining season was coming. If we did not do that, the raning would make floor wet and muddy. The bed would be wet with leaking from the top. We made friends with the family and promised to come back the next day.

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The real jump into the Community Service Project Vinh Long.

We started the day by digging soils to make the ground of the new house higher then before. This was important to avoid flood. We also did dig holes for the pillars to be installed later. This job looked easy but this made us boring for a while. However, the more we work the more we feel excited about the project. We really spent a whole day on moving soils to make the ground of the house higher. We did that with a support from axes, bamboo baskets, bambbo stretchers and even troleys.

We should wear helmets and gloves all the time as this would protect us from some accidents.

Community service project Vinh Long (6)

The excitement increased when we started to build the base of the house at the Community Service Project Vinh Long. We had one master builder and two assistants of him. They were in charge in the skillful jobs like building and planning. Meanwhile, we were very good at other jobs. We brough sands, cements and mix them with water to make mortar. We cut steels and attach one another to make frame of steels. We brough mortar and bricks to builders to make sure they always have enough  to build the house fast.

The sun was hot but we can have  a rest sometimes at teh shade of trees at the garden of Ms. Na. The fruit trees are still young, but still fruit trees.

Community service project Vinh Long (7)

We  had learn the basic knowledge about the construction with the instruction of the builders. We should clean the bricks and put them to water. These steps would make the cement work better with bricks.

Among the working process, we aften get supported not only by human labour but also fruits and sweeties. Some men had collect coconut from a garden nearby and we had so lovely drinks.

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We also try to do something more skillful. Look at one of our builders of the day. We really did that and feel we truly got hands on building a house literately. There were mistakes done but our master builders are skillful enough to fix and make everything right again.
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We were so happy to see the shape of the house formed. Things were done step by steps, and we had to do many things to arrive this. Our bodies were exhausted but we felt we were wtill very strong.

The most happy person were Ms.Na. She cried all day as seeing the shape of teh house. She walked in then walked out then did it again, wit tears. There were years this was just a dream and it was coing very near. Many people from neighboring houese also comes to share happiness with her. Every body was so haoppy for her.

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This should be one of our greatest moments to remember among our the Community Service Project Vinh Long. Kanako had touch some buttons, with the instruction of the truck driver, to load the sand from the truck to the house.

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At some dangerous parts of the project, we needed to atay away a short while. The master builders will do the job. making roof was of some small percentage of risk and we don’t want any. We stayed a the garden, having some games to play. And the roof was made in a very short time.

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The shape of happiness at the Community Service Project Vinh Long.

We have make the floor great by the teracotta tiles. Seeing this picture and you should imagine that this was teh first time ever this girl can crawl in her house. It was soil only before and it’s even muddy at the raining season.

We continued by putting coconut leaf to frame to make the wall of teh house. We learn to do it very fast.

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The happy moment of the whole family and our gang: we had fished the house. It was not splandid but it is much better than the house of Ms. Na before. She and her daughter and granddaughter would be warm in the house now even at raining season. Wind did not go thru her house now. Water did not make the ground slippery now. The grand daughter can crawl in her house now. We have  changed life at a poor community in Mekong Delta Vietnam.

We get changed too. We are happy to bring happiness to other people. We feel the value of sharings and giving to the right person.

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We did it.

Community service project Vinh Long (2)