Enabling life-giving water, in Vietnam

Networking for the Mission

You must come! This was the urgent plea from Sr Jacinta Duong of Vietnam to a Good Shepherd Team in Singapore. 

Jacinta described the yellowish and sour water which 300 children and the sisters have been consuming over the past 10 years at Tan Son Nhi Elementary Charity School, a school run by the Good Shepherd Sisters since 2009. The drinking water was pumped from a bore hole located in Binh Hung Hoa cemetery area in Ho Chi Minh city.  The Team from Restful Waters in Singapore (Sr Lucy Chia, Mr Roger Tan, Ms Morene Sim, Ms Cecilia Lim and Ms Melina Ong) did not hesitate to answer this call to ‘come’, to bring potable water to the school community.

Photo above 

Celebrating togetherness as one Good Shepherd Family – Sisters & Candidates from Ho Chi Minh city and the Singapore Team

1st Row R to L:  Sr Theresa Pham, Sr Josephine Tran, Maria Tran, Sr Agnes Nguyen, Anna Nguyen, Theresa Nguyen, Maria Vu, Sr Rose Virginie Le, Anna Nguyen, Sr Francesca Do, Maria Tran

2nd Row R to L:  Maria Ly, Sr Assumpta Tran, Lucia Nguyen, Anna Le, Maria Nguyen, Maria Nguyen, Cecilia Lim, Morene Sim, Sr Lucy Chia, Roger Tan, Melina Ong

Immediate response 

Upon hearing Jacinta’s story, the Team in Singapore sprang into action and began to plan, even before receiving the email from Sr Theresa Pham, sector leader of Vietnam, inviting them to help.  The sisters in Vietnam provided lab test results on the quality of the water, photographs, measurements, architects’ report on the structure of the building, etc. Such information was invaluable and critical to the evaluation and planning of the water filtration project.

Five contaminants were identified from the lab results.  The initial proposal of a BioSand Filter System was found to be insufficient. Upon advice from volunteer consultant, Roger Tan, a more sophisticated Reverse Osmosis (RO) System was required.  

The project was blessed with a sponsorship for the system. 

The challenges and the inspiration

One week before the Singapore Team left for Ho Chi Minh, they received news that the shipment carrying the RO system would not arrive in time.  Trusting in God, they set forth on the journey on 13 March 2018 as planned.

Looking back, they realised that it was all in God’s plan. The delayed arrival of the RO system enabled them to focus on the piping and iron works which required a longer time than planned. It allowed all five team members (Lucy, Roger, Morene, Cecilia and Melina) to participate fully in the activities for all the children of the school.  It also provided the opportunity to sit down and have meaningful discussions with all the sisters in community.  They learned about the ministries in Ho Chi Minh, the challenges they faced, and witnessed the zeal, creativity and audacity of all the sisters.

Reflection from the Consultant

Click here to read the personal reflections of Roger Tan, volunteer consultant - A Fateful Encounter

Water began flowing....

The RO system finally arrived just in time on 15 March and was installed successfully.  Clear and quality water began flowing through the taps at 7.35pm. There were cheers all around. 

Cross border cooperation                                

It was the co-operation and teamwork between the sisters in Vietnam, especially Sr Agnes Nguyen who was the assigned co-ordinator for the project and the team from Restful Waters Singapore, especially Mr Roger Tan, that the project was carried through successfully.

Message from Sector Leader, Sr Theresa Pham

 “I am grateful for the chance to welcome you to Vietnam.  Through your presence and inspiration, you have given us much encouragement and motivation in networking for the mission. 

It was also a great opportunity for our young sisters through listening to your stories of taking risks for mission.  How happy are the faces of sisters by sharing their desires, hopes and plans for the future! 

I am convinced by the words of Sr Paul, “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (Rm 10:13)  Sr Theresa Pham, Sector Leader, Vietnam

From the Singapore Team

We would like to express our grateful thanks to Truong, the plumber and his two assistants for their commitment, all sisters in community for their hospitality, Sr Theresa Pham and Sr Joan Lopez for entrusting us with this important mission, Sr Jacinta Duong for bringing to our attention the water issue at the school, Mr Roger Tan for his professional and technical advice, and all donors for their contributions towards the activity for the children and sponsorship of the RO System.

Truly, God has blessed the mission trip, its participants, the children of Tan Son Nhi Elementary Charity School and the Sisters of Saigon Community.

Some Personal Reflections

“I have always been concerned about the water our students and sisters drink every day.  It was our wish to have good water to drink whenever we felt thirsty.  Good water to drink is a necessary need for everyone.  I am happy that Restful Waters team has come and from now on we have good quality water to refresh our bodies after work and study.”  Sr Jacinta Duong

"What touched me most is the vibrancy of the sisters in doing what they do. Though the sector may have limited resources, you are all very rich in your heart with compassion and zeal. Despite your busyness you went all out to see to our comfort.  Nothing seems too difficult for you to carry out as I experience the exuberance of love and joy of the community.”  Sr Lucy Chia

“I feel happy and thank God for the team’s visit. I can see the zeal in the hearts of everyone in the group.  They encouraged me.  I am touched by their generosity.  I appreciate everything they did for us and I have very good experience from their visit.”  Sr Josephine Tran 

“During the three days we got to know the group personally.  I am inspired by their enthusiasm and words of motivation.  “Never give up when you do for the poor”, that sentence from Sr Lucy inspires me.”  Sr Rose Virginie 

“I feel truly blessed by my encounters with the Good Shepherd Sisters in Vietnam. I am amazed by their creativity, energy and hard work. They are multi-talented and use their talents to do God’s work cheerfully despite the challenging conditions and limited resources.  Thank you, Good Shepherd Sisters of Vietnam!”  Morene Sim

“You come to us as guests from God.  With your presence, I see God’s help through you.  Your sincerity and zeal really touched me and made me more engaged in my mission.  Thank God for your presence here with us, and I hope to co-operate in the Good Shepherd Mission.”  Sr Francesca Do

“I really admire your spirit.  Everyone has a good heart and kindness.  You want to help us in whatever you see.  You inspire me to commit myself for Good Shepherd mission especially for the dignity of the poor.  I hope to have a chance to learn from you about school management.  So grateful to you all.”  Sr Assumpta Tran

“Through this project I benefited and learnt both the process of carrying out a project professionally and the spirit of readiness to share, support and respond to the urgent needs at Asia Pacific level.  It has shown a radical way of networking."  Sr Agnes Nguyen 

“My plan was to go and fulfil the water project at the school in Ho Chi Minh, but I received much much more.  I see young sisters so dedicated and energised.  It was truly a God-filled experience, even when the water system did not arrive on time as scheduled, everyone showed patience and made us feel at ease.

I was also very touched by Sr Agnes’ perseverance, never giving up, going personally from office to office to ensure that the RO system arrived before we left. 

I am grateful for the open and honest sharing we had with all the sisters and was very taken in and inspired by Sr Theresa’s leadership.”  Melina Ong

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said,

rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7:38

Full story and photos 

Click here - Life-Giving water, in Vietnam