“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said,
rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38
“You must come!”. That was the urgent plea from Sr Jacinta Duong of Vietnam Sector.
Jacinta’s sharing of the yellowish and sour water which 300 children and the sisters have
been consuming over the past 10 years moved us. The drinking water was pumped from a bore hole located in Binh Hung Hoa cemetery area in Ho Chi Minh (HCM) city. We did not hesitate to answer this call to ‘come’, and bring potable water to Tan Son Nhi Elementary Charity School, a school run by the Good Shepherd Sisters since 2009.
We sprang into action following an email from Sr Theresa Pham, sector leader of Vietnam inviting us to help despite the fact that planning had started from the day we heard Jacinta’s story. The sisters in Vietnam were most helpful and patient, answering all our queries and requests; even to the extent of providing 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…Our initial proposal of a BioSand
Filter System was found to be insufficient. We needed a more sophisticated Reverse Osmosis (RO) System as advised by our volunteer consultant.
We were blessed with a sponsorship for the system.
Just as we thought all was progressing well according to plan one week before we left for
HCM, we received news that the shipment carrying the RO system would not arrive in time. Trusting God to be on our side, we set forth on the journey on 13 March 2018.
Looking back, I realised that it was all in God’s plan. The delayed arrival of the RO system enabled us to focus on the piping and iron works which required a longer time than planned. It also allowed all five team members (Sr Lucy Chia, Mr Roger Tan, Ms Morene Sim, Ms Cecilia Lim and Ms Melina Ong) to participate fully in the activity for all the children of the school. We are also thankful for the opportunity to sit down and have meaningful discussions with all the sisters in community. We learned about the ministries in HCM, the challenges they faced, and we witnessed the zeal, creativity and audacity of all the sisters in there.
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.
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.
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.
“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