As part of their Overseas Community Involvement Project (OCIP), 24 undergraduates from NTU Hall of Residence 1 travelled to Laos from 17 June to 1 July 2017, to construct a primary school for the children of Nong Luang Village.
During their time at Nong Luang Village, the team experienced the life of the villagers by learning the basics – from brick-laying, cement mixing to farming in a rice field. The team stayed with villagers in a nearby village and even cooked Singaporean dishes such as muah chee (glutinous rice balls) and har cheong gai (fried prawn paste chicken) for their hosting village.
One of the objectives of this trip was to improve the education system in the village, and hence the team visited the soon-to-be-demolished primary school and conducted lessons for the children. These lessons included art and craft, music, science and dance.
As days passed, the bond between the villagers and the team grew stronger. The team was touched by the hospitality and generosity of the villagers. Despite going with the intent to provide help to the community in Laos, both parties benefited from this short OCIP stint. The villagers got a taste of world-class education from Singapore, and the team has learned basic survival skills in a village which they may not have experienced before.
Beginning to view each other as family members, goodbyes were hard. Despite the tearful goodbye, the team has thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were glad they could contribute.
“Initially, our team thought that we would give more than we receive, but it turned out otherwise! We have gained and learned so much more from the villagers in so many ways. It was probably through the sincerity of our hearts that we managed to break the language barrier and communicate using gestures and broken Lao/Hmong. This OCIP experience was indeed an unforgettable one for me.” Sherlyn Seah, Publicity and Publications Officer
“The two things I missed most were the school children and the breath-taking scenery. The newfound joy in the faces of the children when they are gifted with just a simple toy, origami or snack, makes me feel silly when I think about how I always want more. We are so absorbed with wanting to be contented in the future that we forget to just soak in the present. This meaningful experience has rejuvenated my spirits and left an indelible impression on my soul.” Saktipriya D/O Singaravelu, Welfare Officer
About Project Ohana
Project Ohana is an annual Overseas Community Involvement Project (OCIP) initiative by undergraduates from NTU Hall of Residence 1. Started in 2014, Project Ohana seeks to bring together dedicated individuals who have an interest community service.
The planning effort over the academic year cumulates in a 10-day effort to help residents in less developed countries. These projects are usually related to improving social issues in these communities, such as water sanitation, education, communal infrastructure, personal hygiene, etc.