Volunteer in Cambodia
Hello fellow travellers, future travellers and everybody else. I am Sangy, I’m from England and I'm 28. So here I am in Cambodia, Siem Reap teaching at Kidtea, a NGO school. So what brings me out here? When I was younger I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to be or do. But one thing I was sure about I wanted to help people. In what manner I did not know but from anything that would better someone's life even if it was by the littlest margin would be worth my time. Often as we get older you get swallowed by daily life and busy working away in much different sectors than you thought you would. But that desire to get out there and help people was still there so I finally took the plunge and booked myself on a project. This was a few years ago and still to this day I still hold such fond memories. To locals who take you in as their own family, to the children who are introvert at first who then go on to give you the biggest and warmest hugs, the loudest and happiest greetings, create such infamous drawings and humorously mimic my English accent.
As cliché as it sounds it has changed me. The world is such a vibrant and unique place with hundreds of different cultures and way of living, so to be a part of one and immerse yourself in a different way than solely visiting or passing through a place, is beyond eye opening.
This is my third voluntary project I have done abroad with Love Volunteers which itself speaks volumes and I just love it more and more each time.
But forget the 'Sangy Story'. If you have or are pondering about doing it, just go out there take the leap and make your own incredible story and journey.
I've just finished my law and human rights placement in Cambodia and had an amazing time! I'd really recommend this to anyone, just make sure you head out there with an open mind. A really amazing part of my trip was being able to visit some remote indigenous communities in a North Eastern province with my NGO. This was a truly once in a lifetime experience! I also really enjoyed meeting people from all over the world in the hostel, and exploring Phnom Penh whilst I was there- such an exciting and crazy city!
I have just finished what i would say was the experience of my life. This month surrounded by such amazing people made me realize that we are in a problematic and selfish world but at the end, if each of us does something to change it, we could make the difference, one by one, step by step, heart by heart.
Being a volunteer is a life-changing experience not only for the satisfaction that the smiles on their faces give you, is also the best way to know the country and their amazing culture. Its an excellent way to make friends from different countries and to make you feel conscious of what is going on around the world.
Cambodia is an amazing and needy country full of people ready to give you a smile, a piece of fruit, a home, not just to make you happy but to show you how happy they are - even with so little. If you have a generous heart and full of love Cambodia is just the ideal country to be a Love Volunteer!
The local NGO I was assigned to on this project work in a variety of sectors which help support and protect the poorest communities in and around Phnom Penh, providing advice on human rights issues, architectural solutions, detailed mapping and land rights documentation as well as acting as a
voice for these otherwise unheard communities.
Although my role within this program was to predominantly produce architectural solutions that address the needs of these communities my role also encompassed the land mapping process and
working alongside the human rights team to protect those who are vulnerable and in need.
My role gave me with the opportunity to understand the Cambodian culture and architectural process within it.
Meeting with the communities and understanding the wider issues concerning the families within them provided me with a deeper understanding of the challenges they face and allowed me to experience a social side of architecture which I had not previously been involved in. Enabling families to have a voice and hope of a better future has been incredibly rewarding.
I handled a number of projects in varying scales, from individual dwellings to more recently the Chrang Chamres project which is situated on a land area of 6.5 acres and proposes to provide 13,000 new homes and a variety of commercial opportunities for the communities living within the development. My drawings for this project were presented to the local communities, individual residents, directors of NGO's and to donors to make these a built reality in the near future.
Another project I was heavily involved in since my time on this program has been the White Building - a complex and political project concerning the threatened displacement of some 2,500 residents. As well as providing architectural documentation I worked with the human rights team and fellow NGO's in providing feasible solutions to help save the building and secure the tenure for the residents of the building.
As well as the fellow NGO's on this project I worked hand in hand with the residents and village chiefs to ensure any proposals have the full support and approval from all key stakeholders in order to provide an attainable vision of the future in these uncertain times.
My time on the Architecture Program in Cambodia with Love Volunteers has been extremely insightful - the roles undertaken, the responsibilities, the respect and the appreciation received from both the communities and my colleagues has been very fulfilling. Working in a third world environment has exposed me to the challenges, constraints and stark realities of life for many people which I hadn't fully appreciated. This
firsthand experience took me beyond my initial understanding of the Cambodian people and exposed me to new ways of thinking in a new and interesting side of architecture which I believe has helped my professional develop and progression.
I was excited to volunteer in Cambodia, however, I had no idea it would be one of the best experiences of my life!
On the first day teaching, I was personally picked up by the ‘Dad’ of the orphanage, he was so friendly and made me feel welcome immediately. As soon as we got to the orphanage, I got off the Tuktuk and was greeted by the cutest little people. They were all so excited, and couldn’t wait to tell me their names and how old they were. Since it was my first day, I mostly observed how the previous volunteer was teaching. I sat with the kids and was completely surprised at how concentrated they were, they were all so willing to learn and were all so happy. During break time, the kids started drawing pictures for me (since then I was given at least two pictures every day until the day I left). We played a bunch of games together and they soon felt very comfortable around me. When the day ended and it was time for the volunteers to leave, every single one of the kids would walk out with us, watch us get on the Tuktuk and wave until we were completely out of sight. Some of them even tried running to catch up with us! I couldn’t believe how well the first day had went, and I couldn’t believe how much I loved these kids already!
The next three weeks flew by. I felt closer to the kid’s every day. I could also see the progress the kids were making, they were all so hard-working and appreciative of everything they had. I tried to make the lessons interesting by incorporating games and fun activities. The kids loved it and the day would always end with the sound of their laughs and giggles. It was always sad leaving the orphanage, the girls would give me the most loving hugs and the boys would give us high fives! I remember there was one day when it started pouring outside. I thought the kids would be sad about not being able to go outside to play. Boy, was I wrong! They were absolutely ecstatic and ran outside to play in the rain. They brought little buckets out with them and had water fights. It was such a beautiful moment to witness. Besides from teaching, I spent my time with the kids playing tickle war, learning Khmer, reading their favourite books, colouring, playing ball, learning their favourite food, we even had our own inside jokes.
I never wanted to think about the day I had to the leave the kids. But the day had to come. Instead of a normal lesson, we decided to have a fun day instead. We watched movies, danced to music, and played games. Later that evening, we went see a movie at the cinema and had fried chicken for dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone more excited about fried chicken than these kids. The greatest surprise of all, my little ones made bracelets for me, it was absolutely precious. Then it was goodbye. For the very last time, I got on the Tuktuk, looked back to wave to the kids, until they were completely out of sight. Its difficult describing how I felt, but there was one thing I knew, this wasn’t really goodbye, I will see them again soon, because they are family.
These kids and “Mom” and “Dad” are the kindest, most appreciative, loving people I have ever met. I would never trade anything for this amazing experience. Thank you so much for teaching me how to be happy, how to love and how beautiful life is.
During my three weeks in Phnom Penh, I was assigned to NWL as an English Teacher. Initially, the experience was rather daunting as there is a lot of cultural differences between Cambodia and Singapore. However, with the company of other volunteers and the hospitable hosts at the orphanage, I began to enjoy my volunteering experience. On the side note, the kids at NWL were very sensible for their ages. All in all, as much as the kids, I felt I have learn a lot during this short three weeks. I plan to return to the same organisation next year. Till then, study hard NWL!
My name is Chole and I recently volunteered in Cambodia, at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh. I worked in the paediatric department. I can honestly say it was the most valuable and rewarding experience of my life so far. I was able to work with the nurses, providing first line treatment to children suffering from tuberculosis, HIV, malnutrition and a multitude of other conditions. I was also lucky enough to have the opportunity to help with the development of practical skills for medical students.
The staff and patients were incredible. I have never worked in an environment where even the smallest gesture is so utterly appreciated. Working with people who have nothing, showed me how little is needed to show you genuinely care about people and their wellbeing. Something as simple as a stethoscope on a baby's chest provided so much comfort and reassurance to a mother, who feared her child.
The Cambodian culture is so rich and the people are warm and an absolutely inspirational to talk to. From the shop owner who survived a land mine explosion and has gone on to help other victims, to the waitress who is a blind orphan, yet still managed to achieve a university degree in a field she loves. These are people who can overcome great adversity to achieve incredible things. I was so lucky to spend even 5 minutes with these inspirational people.
If the time I spent in Phnom Penh helped even one person, made one child smile or made one parent feel more at ease... I achieved something wonderful.
I can not recommended volunteering highly enough. It really is the experience of a life time and Love Volunteers made it easy and hassle free. I felt well supported and safe in their hands in the lead up, and during my time in Cambodia.
Thank you Love Volunteers, for the most incredible and fulfilling experience of my life.
Over summer I was placed at a school in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia teaching a Grade Three class of 36. The bright walls, cheerful kids and incredible teachers quickly made me fall in love with the place. I taught my class about nouns, adjectives and verbs, we learnt about singular, plural and negative form, occupations, appearances, clothing and directions. Seeing most of the class succeed and grasp these lessons was hugely exciting, while trying to manage to find time to help those who were falling behind was difficult and pushed me to think outside the box.
My highlights over the months are countless, they include seeing the kids faces light up when I brought out stickers, and watching their scheming and creative attempts to try and sneak more. It was discovering that unlike in New Zealand, these students loved to be tested, and it was seeing their marks improve over the month. It was receiving artwork and letters from them, and spending my evenings answering their questions. It was the million high fives I got as a walked up to class each day, and the multiple times I was asked ‘what is your name?’ and ‘are you married?’. It was playing volleyball, yoyo or hacky sack with the boys in their break, and riding home with a few of the girls after school. It was getting to know each child personally, and striving to spend a bit of time talking one on one. It was the class party on my last day, and seeing their smiles when the pizza finally arrived after a week of excited anticipation. Saying goodbye was heartbreaking, and I cannot wait to visit them again.
For a country with such a sad and recent history, it was amazing to see the sense of determination to learn, a determination to catch up with the rest of the world and make up for lost time. Given their history it wouldn’t have surprised me if Cambodians were cold, hard and broken, but instead in the month I was there I found myself living amongst the most gentle, generous and friendly people I have ever come across. I cannot wait to return to Cambodia, and in particular to return to the school and to my class.
The opportunity to teach exceeded my expectations. Love Volunteers was exceptional, while their prices reasonable and far cheaper than anywhere else.
My experience of volunteering in a human rights NGO in Cambodia is definitely rewarding and unforgetable. Volunteering in Cambodia is one of the best decisions I've made for myself. I would strongly recommend anyone who is hesitating to go ahead and do it.The NGO I worked with a coalition of numerous domestic human rights NGOs, it is responsible for the networking among all the NGOs, organising human rights conferences and workshops. The NGO has two main programs, one works on the Khmer Rouge Trial, the other one works on human rights as in general. I worked with the latter. My duties included drafting the speech which was to be delivered at a UN forum in Geneva that my co-ordinator was attending, observing human rights advocacy conferences/workshops/protests which I needed to write comprehensive reports on, conducting research on various international legal struments and communicating the significant of which by way of making representations to my colleagues. One of the amazing things that came with volunteering was that my NGO offered me the chance to see what was really going on in Cambodia in human rights field from different perspectives-- I attended various events ranging from conferences which invited high profile governmental officials, to protests which were carried out by victims, who had been subject to human rights violations.
Accommodation: I was very surprised that the three girls of my host family all spoke excellent English and we could communicated without much difficulty. The place I stayed was a two-storey unit which was well-kept. The family was warm and friendly. The food they servied, which was a combination of Khmer (Cambodian) and Chinese, was so delicious that I gained 2.5kg from overeating. I would recommend volunteers stay with local family. I learnt more about Cambodia from the authentic Cambodian cultural facts and tales the family told on the dinner table than any travel guide. Now that I had to leave and continue my travelling. I truely miss my time in Cambodia and feel that it is a shame that I could only stay for such a short time. Visiting Cambodia and working there as a volunteer is plainly one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I believe it would be yours as well if you decide to go a head.
I had a really amazing experience working with the children at the orphanage! It was definitely the highlight of my travels in Southeast Asia, because I really felt like I was making a difference in the lives of the kids. I wish I could have volunteered in Phnom Penh for longer, but it was an unforgettable 2 weeks!
I had a fantastic 2 weeks in Cambodia, it's one of the happiest and most generous countries i've ever been to. I can't wait to return soon!
My name is Ben, I'm a 22-year-old Australian, and I volunteered in Cambodia with Love Volunteers in January 2011 for three weeks. It was a fantastic experience, and I'd definitely encourage anyone to thinking about volunteering to go ahead and do it!
I volunteered with three friends at a Vocational Training Centre and an orphanage in Battambang. The VTC was run by an old couple who help give disadvantaged kids a future. They have taken in about 20 teenage boys, and teach them wood carving - they make these magnificent sculptures and furniture to sell - so they'll have a marketable skill for life. They also pay for a teacher to come and teach them English two hours each day. We took over teaching those classes while we were there - as English is our first language we could help with some of the finer points. When word spread around the neighbourhood that there were native English speakers teaching a class, all the schoolkids would come by to get some extra English tuition - we ended up having 50 kids some days! The boys and the family were so nice and so friendly and so happy, and it was an amazing experience.
We also taught at an orphanage across the other side of town. There were about 30 kids there, half of whom would only have school in the mornings, so we would teach them and play with them in the afternoons. Again, they were so nice and happy and fun to be around. We took over lots of pens and exercise books and other little presents to give to the kids, and held a little sports carnival day where we ran egg-and-spoon races and sack races and those sorts of things. They all wrote us lovely letters when we left and we've got millions of photos of all the fun we had!
We stayed at the VTC in very nice accommodation - we had beds and showers and western toilets, and were fed very well each day.
The native language in Cambodia is Khmer, but most people know at least some English. Both US dollars and Cambodian Riel are acceptable currency. The weather in January was warm and sunny. All the locals are exceptionally friendly and Cambodia is very safe.
I'd definitely recommend Cambodia as a volunteering destination, and Love Volunteers as a volunteering organisation. I'll try to check back to this forum to answer any questions any of you may have. Hope this was helpful to anyone considering volunteering in Cambodia!