14 February, 2017
A team of 10 employees from Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing, Life Health Foods and Vitality Works have volunteered through ADRA Connections to work with the Water for Life project in Vietnam.
The team members, who were all recipients of the Spirit of Sanitarium Award (SOSA), took part in an ADRA Connections trip in November last year.
Most team members only met for the first time at the airport, but it wasn’t long until the group was tightly bonded, sharing experiences that were eye-opening and challenging.
The team travelled south to the project site in the remote region of Tra On Vinh Long, an area affected by salt intrusion caused by El Nino and rising sea levels, making the water in the Mekong Delta undrinkable and impacting livelihood crops and health in the community.
Water for Life helps to provide the most vulnerable population groups with access to clean water and raise the community’s awareness of water health and sanitation practices. Sanitarium’s donated funds and the team’s mix of manual labour and community programs produced a water tower, a 3000L water tank, a drinking water system, five sinks, improved kindergarten facilities, water health and sanitation workshops and 250 water jars for selected households.
The team took on the work with enthusiasm, laying concrete for an outdoor area, tiling a long hand washing sink station, painting, grouting and assisting with plumbing the pipes. The hot and humid conditions were a challenge but there were smiles all around and a great spirit of teamwork. The team helped ADRA run workshops with the children, sharing about the importance of hand washing, teeth cleaning, putting rubbish in the bin, recycling and other safe hygiene practises.
Sanitarium’s donation purchased 250 large water jars for families on the island to store fresh water during the months that the Mekong Delta has too much salt for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing. The group visited some of the recipients of the jars and were touched to make connections with them; to hear their stories and gain understanding of their way of life.
“The highlight for me was leaving with a change in perspective. When you see and interact with people whose biggest stress is getting clean water it brings new meaning to the term ‘first world problems’ that we complain about.” – Brendon Blanchard, Vitality Works NZ recipient
“It really has made me appreciate what we have. My highlights were the wonderful friends I made on the trip, and how amazing it was to be able to give back!” – Lisa Bond, Corporate & Commercial recipient
“Visiting Vietnam was a real eye-opener trip. Life is very hard for some people and a concerted effort is required to alleviate poverty.” – Dinesh Sofat, NZ Office recipient
“I think the family connectedness amongst the Vietnamese people is a cultural piece to be envied.” – Don Evangelista, Operations recipient
This blog post was written and published by Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing.