Rainy season has started in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam with rain and strong winds. However such conditions only motivate Habitat for Humanity Vietnam’s volunteers to work harder to help home-partners build safe shelters. On Oct 26 & 27, 45+ students and teachers from Renaissance International School (RISS) supported Habitat for Humanity Vietnam’s three home-partners (family of Ms. Muoi, family of Ms. Hue and family of Mr. Ba) to build new homes in Cho Gao District, Tien Giang Province, Vietnam.
With Habitat for Humanity Vietnam as RISS’s charity partner of the year, in May 2016, RISS organized a Charity Ball and student art auction to raise funds. The Ball was a great success and raised up to VND 300 million (~ $13,000 US) to build five decent homes with Habitat. Activities like this one contribute to RISS’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and fulfill Creativity Activity Service (CAS) credits.
However, students also volunteered to join the build, not only participated out of necessity: “I knew about Habitat for Humanity when I was in grade 6 but as I was too small to join a build. Therefore, knowing of the build, I volunteered to join without hesitation,” says Gu Sue Min, grade 11 student. “The build gave us the chance to help poor families and prove that students can build. That’s also what I’m inspired from.”
For all of the students, it was the first time to help build a house with their own hands. All the volunteers were full of excitement at the start, but soon realized some of the challenges of physical labor and working with mortar, bricks, trowels, and sand. Kirk Ho said: “Before, when my own house was be built, I often complained to my mom and dad why it was taking so long for the workers to build our house. But now for the first time I actually do the building job, I can understand how hard it is. It also makes me feel more grateful to have a nice house to live in.”
The unfavorable weather continued throughout the day, and it would suddenly rain heavily with strong winds. Urging the students to continue building when the rain has almost stopped, Mr. Felipe Nurmi, a teacher of RISS, told his students: “The harder you work today, the sooner the families have new houses. You may feel tired or even exhausted but it is good tired because you’re helping others and you know they need decent homes especially during the rainy season.”
The students also learned another valuable lesson. Giving also means taking. While students give their muscle, time and love they also take back love and gratefulness from the home-partners. They were warmly welcomed by the families, often receiving cookies or snacks from the home partners. “The kids are so lovely and they work hard,” said Muoi, one of the home-partners. “We will remember them when they leave. We hope they will remember us as well. We are so thankful and happy as we are going to have a new house. Thank you all very much!”
If you want to know what these students can learn from the build, please see this >> clip