Making Fond Memories

Remembering well her afternoons at a mobile library, Gladys Ng jumps at the chance to help children in Vietnam make similar memories.

The mobile library allowed Gladys Ng to dive into other worlds, exploring far away kingdoms and even helping solve murder mysteries.

Gladys Ng remembers fondly reading books from a mobile library. Being able to help children in Vietnam make similar memories was a real treat.

“When I heard about a project to bring books and the internet in a van to village children in Vietnam, something stirred inside me.

I remembered being a child myself, heading to the community centre near my HDB flat on Wednesdays, where a van filled with books would be parked.

That mobile library, in a time before Singapore had regional libraries, allowed me to dive into other worlds, exploring far away kingdoms and even helping solve murder mysteries.

I have such fond memories of that part of my childhood, so I was thrilled that now, I could help other children make their own special memories.

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.

So, together with several other volunteers – none of whom were teachers or librarians – I spent four days in rural villages near Hanoi this year, working with the SIF’s Words on Wheels project.

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!

Together with some of my fellow volunteers, I am already thinking of a second stint.

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.”

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