A group of 16 young Malaysians have spent the past month in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s outer districts as part of the annual Mua He Xanh (Green Summer) volunteer campaign.
The summer of 2019 will surely serve as a symbol of community and friendship for those Malaysian volunteers and the Vietnamese university students they partnered with to bring the Green Summer to Le Van Tho Elementary School in Tan Thoi Hiep Ward in District 12.
Volunteers involved in the program helped community organizers and district officials give the school a much-needed facelift by adding a fresh coat of paint, decorating classroom walls, repairing and upgrading the school’s facilities, and building a playground.
The group also offered English lessons to Le Van Tho students.
Mohd Khairul Annuar, a former student at Tun Hussein Onn University Malaysia, proudly shared his memories from the 30-day experiencewith Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
|The Malaysian volunteers pose for a group photo. Photo: Binh Minh / Tuoi Tre|
According to Annuar, one of the most memorable activities was transforming used plastic bottles into flower pots with description tags that included each plant’s Vietnamese and scientific name.
“Don’t they look beautiful?” 27-year-old Annuar asked as he showed off the eco-friendly flower pots.
For Annuar, the smiles and appreciation from the students after each English lesson or activity were more than enough to ward off homesickness throughout his month in Vietnam.
In fact, according to Pham Huu Loc, secretary of the Youth Union of Tan Thoi Hiep Ward, there were days when the volunteers became so absorbed in their projects that they forgot to eat and rest.
The work done by the volunteers did not go unnoticed by local community residents, many of whom insisted on supporting their efforts by offering food and drinks to the group.
|The Malaysian volunteers prepare name tags for their homemade tree pots. Photo: Binh Minh / Tuoi Tre|
Not just a volunteer program
In addition to their projects at Le Van Tho Elementary School, both the Vietnamese and Malaysian volunteers took advantage of their time participating in the Green Summer campaign to learn more about their respective cultures by cooking meals from their countries and practicing English with one another.
The volunteers also planned musical performances to showcase the unique culture of their respective countries at the upcoming farewell party to celebrate their summer experience.
“Green Summer is a meaningful program that helps connect the Vietnamese and Malaysian volunteers and contributes to a good relationship between the two countries,” Annuar commented.
|The Malaysian and Vietnamese volunteers prepare meals for people in need. Photo: Binh Minh / Tuoi Tre|
Zahari bin Saaid, a 23-year-old student from Tun Hussein Onn University Malaysia, told Tuoi Tre that he hopes to bring home unique souvenirs from Vietnam, particularly red T-shirts bearing the yellow Vietnamese star, to show his friends.
“We’re here not only as volunteers but also as a ‘bridge’ to connect and promote Vietnam to our Malaysian friends,” Saaid said.
Groups of volunteers from the 2019 Green Summer program are stationed in all 24 of Ho Chi Minh City’s districts as well as 15 provinces spread throughout the Central Highlands, central, south-eastern and Mekong Delta regions, Tho Chu Island off the southern province of Kien Giang, and even Laos – which shares a border with Vietnam.
More than 60,000 participants joined this year’s program, which began on July 7 will end on August 4.
|A Malaysian volunteer paints the name of a tree on a homemade sign. Photo: Binh Minh / Tuoi Tre|