Jul 2018- Two back-to-back Meet a Need trips in July and August 2018 saw over 60 colleagues making a difference in a rural fishing village in Vietnam and helping to sustain Malaysia’s marine heritage. Here are their stories.
The Gift of Shelter
In the tiny coastal village of Son Tra, Vietnam, people lead simple lives in simple homes — homes that are not built to withstand the devastating effects of typhoons that visit the area six to eight times a year.
For Meet a Social Need 2018, 21 colleagues from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam volunteered to construct a community typhoon evacuation shelter for the people of Man Thai ward in Son Tra.
Organised in partnership with World Vision International, the trip took place from July 8-14 and saw the team building an evacuation shelter that would keep the locals safe during typhoon season and double up as a community centre to bring people together during non-typhoon seasons.
Even the back-breaking work and sweltering 40°C summer heat did not stop our volunteers from doing more. They learnt how to lift huge fishing nets from the sea and rode in little Vietnamese bamboo basket boats called ‘thung chai’ with the local fishermen. They visited the local kindergarten where they helped the teachers make toys from recycled materials, and put on a group performance of ‘Baby Shark Zumba’ to delight their hosts.
The Great Ocean Clean-up
Shortly after the volunteers returned, another team of over 30 volunteers headed to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia for Meet a Green Need 2018.
Held in support of “Sustaining Kota Kinabalu’s Marine Heritage”, the trip from July 29 to August 4 was a partnership with Sutera Harbour Resort and Universiti Malaysia Sabah.
Lectures on the first day helped our volunteers understand how plastic bags, styrofoam and other non-degradable trash are endangering many forms of marine life, and motivated them to do their best in the beach-combing activities and marine biodiversity surveys that they were subsequently involved in.
Among the volunteers were four divers who went into the sea to gather important data for research purposes. Meanwhile, non-divers conducted a plankton survey to help researchers monitor for “Harmful Algal Bloom” situations that occur when the amount of the plankton in the ocean gets out of control.
To spread the importance of “Sustaining Kota Kinabalu’s Marine Heritage”, we invited national and local media to join the trip and help spread conservation news to the wider public.
“The Meet a Green Need programme is a fantastic programme. I hope it continues indefinitely so more colleagues can learn about environmental issues through first-hand experience.” - Darren Chan, MHE-Demag Malaysia