Having been living in Saigon for a while I was keen to give something back to local people. I’m not wealthy by any stretch but I am lucky enough to have quite a bit of spare time. Wanting to put this to use, to make a contribution to the community, I looked for an NGO that I could relate to. One that I felt was making a tangible difference and one that was run by the locals, rather than a organisation that existed simply to boost someone’s ego.
SCC stood out for me as it was recommended by several people (word of mouth – always the best marketing tool!) and, as a frequent visitor to the Mekong Delta, I felt drawn to their work in the region. I also was reassured by the fact that it’s a long-standing organisation with a professional set-up. So when they asked me to help out with the Cyclo Challenge event this year I was more than happy to oblige. Spending time with the SCC staff during the build-up to the big day showed me just what an enthusiastic, committed and hard working group they. And on the day itself everyone worked endlessly to ensure the event was a success on all levels. What a team!
Since then I’ve agreed to help the staff with their English, and I drop in to the offices regularly to talk with the guys. It’s a pleasure spending time with them; such a friendly group who are eager to improve their English skills – and help me improve my Vietnamese. They’re definitely ahead of me on the second language front!
I first visited Vietnam in 2009 and, like many visitors, was struck by the energy of the both the people and the country as a whole. At the time I didn’t feel I would definitely be returning but I think I knew, deep down, that it wouldn’t be my only visit. So in 2011, finding myself at something of a crossroads, I took the turning marked ‘Saigon’. Now, having lived here for 2 years, I’m delighted to be able to work with an organisation at a local level and feel that I’m making a (small) contribution.
I hope I’m able to help SCC for a long time to come and meet more Friends of SCC along the way. Who knows, maybe we’ll help each other peddle up the Hai Van Pass later in the year?
Philip was the Race Manager of Saigon Cyclo Challenge 2013