A section of Gia Bac village in Lam Dong province that members of FIDES will be visiting.

Thirty-seven members of Singapore Management University’s Catholic community will spend 15 days of their school holidays building a community library in Vietnam.

The students will be working in Gia Bac village in Lam Dong province, an eight-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, from Dec 2-16.

They are partnering St Andrew’s Junior College (SAJC) students and an NGO in Vietnam for this project, said Mr Gerald Lee, 23, from FIDES, the name of the SMU Catholic group.

FIDES learnt about the possibility of such a project through a contact.

So far, the SMU students have collected about $11,000 through fund-raising activities in parishes. SAJC will bear half the construction cost.

FIDES is also collecting simple picture books, and encyclopaedias and dictionaries in English, as the village children have no English background.

Sponsorship is needed to help ship the books to the village.

FIDES says it also intends to purchase stationery items and confectionery for the village children.

In addition to building the library under professional supervision and teaching English, FIDES members will also help to build kitchens for homes.

Villagers presently sleep and cook within their small homes made of rattan walls and a zinc roof. Not every home has electricity, said Mr Lee.

There are also no toilets in the village except in the school, and only one tar road runs through the village.

While the project helps the students engage in community service, FIDES hopes that working together would help them grow spiritually as a Catholic community, said Mr Lee.

There will be spiritual preparation with Canossian Sr Jessica and Fr Damian de Wind before the trip. The group will also receive spiritual inputs at the end of each day while in Vietnam.

Members hope to bring the love of God to the people there, who are mostly non-Catholics, said Mr Lee.

This is the third overseas community service trip that FIDES is organising. The society has made trips to Cambodia and the Philippines previously.

Those who wish to donate books may contact Gerald Lee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Darren Boon
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