Live Blog: CapitaLand's International Volunteer Expedition to Long An Province, Vietnam
Live Blog: CapitaLand's International Volunteer Expedition to Long An Province, Vietnam
From 9 to 11 November 2019, we give you daily updates of what our staff volunteers have been up to at our 28th expedition to CapitaLand Tan Tay Hope Kindergarten in Thanh Hoa District in Long An Province, southwest of Ho Chi Minh City!
Each year, CapitaLand’s International Volunteer Expedition (IVE) brings together staff volunteers from around the world to make a difference to the lives of underprivileged children in cities where we operate. Through CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), we made donations to build 29 Hope Schools in China and Vietnam providing education for underprivileged children in rural communities and giving them a hope for the future. CapitaLand Tan Tay Hope Kindergarten is the fourth Hope School and second Hope Kindergarten in Vietnam.
CHF has contributed VND 6 billion (about S$350,000) to expand and rejuvenate CapitaLand Tan Tay Hope Kindergarten. A new two-storey building housing six classrooms was built with help from various partners to provide for the growing population of preschool age children in Thanh Hoa District, where the kindergarten is centrally located and most accessible.
Day 1 (8 November 2019): Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City
About 100 international staff volunteers from China, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam, community volunteers, and partners arrived in Ho Chi Minh City. For many of the volunteers, it was their first time participating in IVE. Somerset D1Mension Ho Chi Minh City was bustling with very excited volunteers who can't wait to start the expedition!
Day 2 (9 November 2019): Coming together as one heart
It was a very early morning start for everyone as they prepare for their first day of the expedition. After getting to know each other (many staff volunteers met their colleagues for the first time), volunteers set off for CapitaLand Tan Tay Hope Kindergarten while grabbing breakfast on-the-go. The journey took about one and a half hours from Ho Chi Minh City.
06:00 GMT+8: Freshly made local bánh mì sandwich (Vietnamese baguette) for breakfast.
10:00 GMT+8: Staff volunteers being briefed upon arrival at CapitaLand Tan Tay Hope Kindergarten.
10:30 GMT+8: Volunteers warming up with some exercises before a busy day of activities ahead.
11:00 GMT+8: Volunteers coordinate with the painting of recycled barrels to beautify the school.
14:00 GMT+8: Volunteers break for some traditional Vietnamese lunch.
15:00 GMT+8: Volunteers had brought some toys with them to contribute to the play corners. These corners are designed to enhance learning by allowing children to roleplay and make sense of the world.
15:00 GMT+8: Paintworks continue on the school's facades.
18:30 GMT+8: After dinner, volunteers share their first day experience with each other.
Day 3 (10 November 2019): Making a difference through teamwork
Feeling recharged following an eventful day yesterday, volunteers were geared up more than ever to continue rejuvenation works at the school. This is in preparation for when the children return to school the next day.
06:30 GMT+8: Waking up to warm phở (local noodle soup) for breakfast.
08:00 GMT+8: Volunteers set off for the school.
09:30 GMT+8: Volunteers arrive with materials in tow to make finishing touches to the enhancement works at the school.
10:00 GMT+8: Paintworks at the school are steadily being completed.
12:00 GMT+8: Vietnamese lunch to fuel volunteers for a packed afternoon to come.
15:00 GMT+8: After lunch, volunteers walked from school to visit some of the children’s homes. Volunteers brought with them necessities such as rice and oil for the families.
18:30 GMT+8: Volunteers gathering at the school after the visits to proceed for dinner, and just in time to catch a mesmerising sunset.
20:00 GMT+8: Dinner time.
21:30 GMT+8: Volunteers wrapping up the day by sharing their most memorable experience and what they look forward to the next - and last - day of the expedition.
Day 4 (11 November 2019): A new building filled with opportunities and hope
The volunteers' hardwork the past few days has come to fruition as the children were greeted by freshly painted fences, stairs, wall murals and decorated classrooms. Volunteers and children bonded over fun and educational activities. A new classroom block was also unveiled at an inauguration ceremony attended by about 200 children, teachers, staff volunteers and local authorities. The new building aims to triple intake to over 300, allowing the school to better meet the early educational needs of children in Thanh Hoa district.
06:00 GMT+8: Volunteers chose between beef phở, bánh mì sandwich with egg or vegetarian noodles for breakfast, accompanied with Vietnamese coffee.
07:00 GMT+8: It was a wet morning as volunteers set off for the school.
09:00 GMT+8: The inauguration ceremony kicked off with a dance and song performance by the children.
10:00: GMT+8: Volunteers bringing the children around and inside the new school compound.
Let's hear from our volunteers!
This IVE to Vietnam may have come to an end but the memories live on. The efforts that volunteers put into planning the various activities for the children paid off seeing how positively the children responded to the classroom interactions and how they both bonded over the activities. Our volunteers share their thoughts.
“I was really excited about each day’s work at the school. Despite the long hours we spent, I believe our contribution will not only benefit the students and teachers, but also the entire village and province.”
“I enjoy volunteering and any activity that is good for the betterment of the society. This IVE is an eye-opener and the experience will definitely be useful for my work in the community. I am glad to be able to bring colour into the children’s lives and their smiles are my greatest motivation.”
“This is my first time participating in the IVE and I feel really excited for the children! Every child deserves a conducive environment to learn and play. I believe this school is the place they can start to dream and be inspired to achieve their full potential.”
“My first IVE has been a great experience working with volunteers from different countries and learning different cultures. I hope the colourful and spacious environment we have helped to create at the school will encourage the children to study harder and teachers to teach better.”
“This is my first time in Vietnam and participating in IVE. Over the past few days, we saw the transformation of the school through our efforts in beautifying the premises. Children are our future and I am glad to be part of this meaningful expedition.”
“I was involved in creating the props for the play corners and hope that these would encourage the children to think beyond books, explore different occupations and stretch their imagination. I always believe in not just building the infrastructure but also in building the future for children. The lyrics to Whitney Houston's song 'The Greatest Love of All' aptly describes this - “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.”
“It was exciting and heartwarming to see volunteers from different countries and backgrounds gather together to work on this meaningful project for the children of Vietnam. The project could serve as a model for such social architectural and community projects in the future.”
"After months of planning and building, and with the help of various partners, I am very happy to be standing here today to present to you this new two-storey classroom block. With six classrooms, this block will provide more opportunities for teaching and learning. I hope to see more children from Thanh Hoa District come here to have a good start in life and an education they deserve. We also hope that the teachers will continue to be motivated to teach in the new classroom environment."
“It was a very meaningful experience training the school teachers on how to create the learning corners and how to better engage their children in the classroom. It was very heartwarming to see how the teachers were so willing to learn and pick up new knowledge to enhance their lessons for the children. This provided teachers the opportunity to learn what is possible in an early childhood classroom.”
"It was inspiring to see the collaboration between CapitaLand, SUTD and local universities spark off a design that is sensitive to the needs of the community, the children's safety and sustainability in the local context. I am encouraged that our hard work will benefit countless children for years to come."
“This was a very meaningful first experience at IVE for me as we were able to use our creativity to transform recycled materials such as tyres and metal barrels into beautiful pieces that add life to the school compounds. The process was also very fun as I was able to meet and interact with colleagues from different cultures and departments."