25 March 2011

Hanoi, 24 March 2011...Words on Wheels, a three-year mobile library project launched today by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) will provide some 4,000 village children in Hanoi with a window to the world through regular access to books, educational toys, games, the Internet and multimedia facilities.  

Words on Wheels is implemented in partnership with Hanoi Public Library. It is sponsored by Keppel Land, Singapore’s leading developer and pioneer foreign developer in Vietnam, with support from its Vietnamese joint venture companies, International Centre and Quang Ba Royal Park.

According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, about 60% of Hanoi’s 6.5 million residents live in the rural area. Their access to Internet services and public libraries is limited, especially for those furthest away from the city.

Over the next three years, Words on Wheels will reach out to ten selected villages in Hanoi on a rotational basis every weekend. These villages have a large number of households with a monthly income of less than US$42. Words on Wheels will bring 1,500 English and Vietnamese storybooks, educational games and toys, as well as six computer terminals with Internet access, to these villages.

The weekly village runs are conducted by the staff of Hanoi Public Library, supported by volunteers from Keppel and Singapore. Children will get to watch books come alive through storytelling and be coached on the use of the Internet and multimedia tools, adding a new dimension to their learning experience.

“What’s unique about this mobile library is it brings Internet access to rural communities,” says Ms Jean Tan, Executive Director of the Singapore International Foundation.  “The majority of the 27% of Vietnamese who use the Internet are located almost exclusively in the big cities. Words on Wheels, we hope, will help bridge the digital divide and inspire the young to a culture of reading and self-learning. The Internet is full of learning opportunities for children. Teachers may also find ideas for lesson plans and free games that enhance the learning of math and science for kids.”  

“Words on Wheels is an exciting new initiative by the Singapore International Foundation which underscores our commitment to undertake projects that contribute to sustainable development in Vietnam,” added Ms Tan. “We thank Keppel Land and Hanoi Public Library for funding it, and the generosity of Singaporeans who donated the educational toys and games, as well as Singapore Airlines Cargo for sponsoring the freight costs. Indeed, it is this collaborative and giving spirit that enables us to build a better world together.”

Mr Linson Lim, President (Vietnam) of Keppel Land International, says, “Keppel Land is committed to nurturing communities wherever it operates and we are privileged to give back to the Vietnam community through this initiative to empower youths with knowledge and learning.”

“Hanoi Public Library fully acknowledges and appreciates the practicality and efficiency of Words on Wheels, with support from the Singapore International Foundation and Keppel Land. Hanoi Public Library will make every effort to ensure the smooth operations of the mobile library and promote its benefits,” says Mr Tran Van Hoi, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Hanoi Public Library.

Since 1994, the Singapore International Foundation has sent some 300 Singapore professionals as volunteers to Vietnam to conduct capacity-building projects in English language teaching, palliative care, otolaryngology, cardiac ICU nursing, early childhood education, special education, social work and economic empowerment.  

Words on Wheels is the foundation’s first direct-service project in Vietnam, which channels resources directly to a community to meet vital needs in a sustainable way.

Following the launch of the Words on Wheels, the Singapore International Foundation is looking to field groups of volunteers from Singapore to Hanoi to conduct fringe activities like storytelling and arts and craft programmes, alongside the mobile library.

Please click here for more volunteer information.