If you’re heading to Cambodia, you should probably be warned that you’re in for one of the most fun, interesting and enriching trips of your life. Between the tropical beaches of the South, the jaw-dropping Angkor temples of the North and the heart-wrenching yet eye-opening war remnants scattered around the country, it’s easy to while away weeks, if not months, in this dusty, friendly place. So why not spend some of this time giving a little back to a country that you will invariably get so much from?
There are hundreds of NPOs (Non-profit Organisations) and NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) in Cambodia that deal with everything from development and trafficking to skills training, water sanitation and landmine clearing. A little searching online you’re bound to find an organisation or cause that appeals to you, but before you go stocking up on supplies to donate, get in contact with your organisation of choice to see what items they need most to ensure your donation is as effective as possible.
If you aren’t in a position to part with your cash, volunteering your time in Cambodia can be as easy as ABC – quite literally in fact. Orphanages all over the country welcome volunteer English Teachers for a day, a week, a month or even a year or two.
You’d be well advised to get in contact with a few different orphanages a month or two prior to your desired volunteer period, as most require some advanced notification of your arrival while others may require a police check from your home country or a Working With Children-type certificate. Ideally, all volunteers should be cleared by the relevant authorities to work with kids but unfortunately a lack of available volunteers, resources, time and funds make volunteer police checks prohibitive for most orphanages to insist upon.
While in Cambodia last year, I volunteered at two really amazing orphanages; S.C.A.O. is 7kms out of Phnom Penh and cares for around 20 live-in kids and dozens of others from poor neighbouring areas who attend daily English classes provided by the orphanage and it’s English-speaking volunteers.
C.O.S.O. is located on the outskirts of Siem Reap and is home to over 50 gorgeous kids from as young as 2 years old. Donations of school supplies, food staples and funding are always welcomed at both organisations.
Working with these kids is an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. I was so inspired by their tenacity and eagerness to learn. The hardship they endure on a daily basis never wipes the beautiful smiles from their little faces – even for a second – and the love they show the volunteers who trickle through their homes each day is truly heartwarming.
Try something new. Volunteer in Cambodia.