400 YMCA volunteers from Singapore build road in Cambodian village

Feb 2009    

SIEM REAP (Cambodia) – Villagers from the Proyouth Village in Siem Reap are now able to walk on the newly-constructed concrete “Grace” Road which officially opened on Nov 28, 2008.

Through the YMCA International Service Programmes, 400 volunteers from schools and corporations formed teams and made regular trips to the Proyouth Village to build the road as well as to teach English to the underprivileged youth.

Teams of volunteers have been making regular trips to the Boys’ Brigade Learning Centre in the Proyouth Village to teach English.

It was discovered through these trips that a dirt road in the village was severely damaged by floods and water retention and this caused much hardship to the 1,100 villagers who had to ply this road daily.

The mammoth task of rebuilding the 1.2-km long and two-metre wide road was undertaken by the YMCA to improve the livelihood and living conditions of the villagers as well as to encourage commerce activities.

The concrete road had to be constructed manually, with no machines involved. The volunteers had to first clear bushes before they could pile on big rocks and layers of sand, gravel, dry and wet cement.

The road was eventually widened to three metres. The work was done under scorching heat, with temperatures soaring to an average of 34 degrees Celsius.

Started in November 2006, the road-building project was carried out by 400 volunteers from various schools and corporations. The volunteers raised US$40,000 (S$60,000) over the two years for the construction of “Grace” Road. The costs of airfare and lodging of the volunteers were partially funded by the National Youth Council’s Youth Expedition Project grant.

These volunteers are employees from Citibank and PricewaterhouseCoopers as well as students from Hwa Chong Institution, University-YMCA at Singapore Management University (Uni-Y@SMU), Millenia Institute, Yishun Junior College, Catholic Junior College, Nanyang Technological University, Macpherson Secondary School, Institute of Technical Education (College Central) and the National University of Singapore Business School.

Besides road-building, these teams of volunteers also taught English to 60 young villagers, aged 14 to 18 years old. As part of YMCA’s International Service Programmes, the YMCA English Language Programme aims to provide English language skills in a structured and sustained manner to make significant impact on the villagers and to enable the beneficiaries to find employment.

In collaboration with The Boys’ Brigade, the programme was launched in May 2006. An English curriculum is developed for three different levels (beginners, basic and intermediate) of 10 modules each.

This curriculum was carried out by 10 teams of volunteers over a period of one year, with each team completing one module within a fortnight. Upon completion, students sat for a proficiency test, which included both oral and written components.

The proficiency test was conducted in September by corporate volunteers from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The teams of volunteers will now embark on a new phase of construction, extending Grace Road by another 600 metres. They will also continue the second phase of the YMCA English Language Programme with the youth in the Proyouth Village.

YMCA of Singapore wins Outstanding Non-Profit Organisation

THE YMCA of Singapore – a Christian organisation – has received the Outstanding Non-Profit Organisation Award that combines excellence in both volunteer and philanthropy management at the 2008 National Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards Dinner ceremony.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, presented the award to Mr Eric Teng, President of the YMCA of Singapore, before community and business leaders at the Meritus Mandarin Hotel last November.

The National Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards honour those that have set excellence benchmarks in encouraging the spirit of giving in Singapore. The Outstanding Non-Profit Organisation Award recognises best practices in the management of volunteers and donors (including fund-raising practices) in non-profit organisations.

The YMCA organises 15 structured and sustained community service programmes to enrich the lives of the beneficiaries through programmes and activities, such as dancing, singing, gardening, nature walks, arts and craft, outdoor adventure, sports, baking, watching movies and more. It has 4,000 regular and ad-hoc volunteers. Through the YMCA-Tan Chin Tuan Community Service Programmes, it serves more than 1,500 beneficiaries from 21 partnering voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs).


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