Direct service projects aim to yield tangible and immediately observable outcomes to overseas communities, as well as present learning opportunities and meaningful service experiences for volunteers.
General volunteers, whether as a group or an individual, can, like Gladys Ng, be part of a mobile library that visits rural villages in Vietnam, telling children stories or coaching them in reading and using the internet.
They could also, like Raya Papp, build and install bio-sand water filters in Cambodia to give villagers easy access to clean drinking water and cut down water-borne diseases.
Thousands of villagers are enjoying convenient access to clean drinking water through our Water for Life project.
“My children are not often sick anymore” and “my family’s health is better” are some of the villagers’ response to the holistic programme that aims to improve the health conditions and uplift the quality of lives of villagers in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The Water for Life is a signature project of the SIF which aims to improve quality of life of rural villages by improving access to clean drinking water. The project also addresses gaps in rural communities' water ecosystem to reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases, improve hygiene and sanitation conditions, enhance livelihood opportunities and improve overall well-being.
Through the building and installation of 2,000 bio-sand water filters in the rural households of Dan Run and Dam Diek communes, about 50km outside of Siem Reap, we seek to provide more than 9,000 villagers convenient access to clean drinking water, to cut down on water-borne diseases.
The project, sponsored by Deutsche Bank and Ngee Ann Development, and implemented in partnership with Water for Cambodia and Angkor Hospital for Children, also includes a basic literacy programme for the villagers and capacity building of medical services at a rural health centre.
So far, thousands have received access to clean water, significantly reducing water-borne diseases and symptoms in the communes, hundreds have undergone literacy training and scores of volunteers have participated in the programme.
Among the first volunteers was Raya Papp, an American banker who later took six months sabbatical leave to work full time with our partner in Siem Reap, Water for Cambodia. Recently, we've also helped to bring clean water to the villagers living in the Kampong Speu province of Cambodia.
April 2013 marked the start of a three-year Water for Life (Yangon) project that will provide better access to clean drinking water for more than 7,000 villagers in the townships of Kaw Hmu and Kungyangon in the Yangon region of Myanmar, two hours from the city of Yangon. Through this Direct Service project, we will be bringing Singapore volunteers alongside to install water tube wells to provide access to water. Folks like Ma Maw, who is one of the 400 villagers living in Zee Kone, will now benefit from the installation of a tube well that’s about 600 feet deep. Where villagers previously relied on groundwater or shallow well-water which has to be pumped up manually, the deep tube wells provide clean drinking water at the turn of a tap.
The project also addresses gaps in the water ecosystem of rural communities, by reducing the incidence of water-borne diseases, improving hygiene and sanitation conditions, and enhancing livelihood opportunities, thereby improving the overall well-being of the community.
And later this year, we're setting up a three-year project in Lamongan, Indonesia and we are currently working with our partner, Metro for Children charity, to raise funds in support of this project.
We’re working to expand the programme to other parts of Cambodia and even to other countries.
“Partnering the SIF to implement this project is a natural choice given that we (Deutsche Bank) are both focused on improving the lives of villagers in Cambodia. Ultimately, we hope to indirectly facilitate the development of other social components such as education and income-generation opportunities that may otherwise be impacted by water-borne diseases”
Annie Yeo, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Deutsche Bank, Asia
“Clean drinking water is readily available and easily accessible in Singapore; a basic amenity which we all take for granted. We hope this worthy project will help improve the living conditions for some of the villagers in Cambodia, and Ngee Ann Development Pte Ltd is honoured to be able to participate as one of its sponsors”
Teo Chiang Long, Executive Director of Ngee Ann Development
“This relationship will permit clean disease-free water and basic education to be extended to thousands of additional villagers in Siem Reap, Cambodia”
Bob Aldrich, Treasurer and Project Director of HPLC, and member of the Middletown Rhode Island Rotary Club, USA, which supports Water for Cambodia
“Whenever we arrived at a village school, the children would swarm around us with great curiosity. The moment they saw the books, it was like a feeding frenzy. Books would literally fly off the shelves!”
The initiative, sponsored by Keppel Land, with support from its Vietnamese joint venture companies, International Centre and Quang Ba Royal Park, sees a van transformed into a library visiting 10 rural villages in Hanoi.
More than 2,400 children so far have had opportunities to read, play multimedia games and surf the internet that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Staff members of the Hanoi Public Library and volunteers like Gladys hold storytelling sessions, help the children to read or coach them in using the net and other multimedia tools.
For Gladys, the project made her recall fond memories of Wednesdays spent exploring far away kingdoms and solving murder mysteries as she soaked up books from a mobile library parked near her HDB flat when she was a child.
“I had been looking to do some volunteer work, but didn’t feel I could build houses and schools, or render any medical assistance. Helping children to learn through ice-breakers and show-and-tell sessions, however, was something I felt I could handle,” she says.
“On the last day of our visit, a few children finally understood my charade of instructions on how to form words using alphabet cards. A shy boy wearing a beanie hat stood by the side observing and saying nothing before he picked out the right cards by himself and spelt out the longest English sentence I would see on the trip: ‘I like cat’. I wonder what he will be capable of writing in a year’s time.”
We recently launched our second Words on Wheels project in Bandung, Indonesia. WOW Bandung is implemented in partnership with the West Java Library Board, the key government agency providing library services in Bandung. The project is sponsored by UBS AG with the support of the National Library Board Singapore and it will reach an estimated 4,000 schoolchildren from 15 schools in Bandung over the coming three years.
Wish to make a difference? Email us your interest now! Click here to view the latest vacancies for WOW Bandung.