Cambodia Community Project Volunteer StoriesHere are a sample of experiences from previous volunteers at our Cambodia Community Project. (names of children have been changed for their protection).
You can also read about some of our volunteers' fundraising endeavours in our Volunteers' Fundraising Hall of Fame.
'Working at this project has made me view life differently and was an experience that I'll keep with me forever!''Alexandra is 35, and is a forensic scientist from Australia, who spent 2 weeks at our Cambodia Clean Water project in September 2016.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Cambodia Clean Water project. It was hard, physical work (and dirty at times!) but very rewarding and the project’s efforts actively assist in enriching the lives of the people in rural Siem Reap. It was also great to talk to and work with the Cambodian workforce who work at this project. They really appreciated the opportunity to practise their English and hear different accents.
I loved the idea behind how the filters worked and the use of simple materials to construct them. I saw first hand how easy and quick they are to install. On one day we installed 7 filters for individual families.
This was my first time in Cambodia and I am glad I spent time volunteering and being part of a project that provides these filters, that can last up to 9 years for one family. Working at this project has made me view life differently and was an experience that I'll keep with me forever.
"Arrived as a stranger, left as a friend"Sharron is 52, and is an IT manager from the UK and spent two weeks at our Cambodia Community project.
"It took 32 years to get here, but they say the best things are worth waiting for! My interest in Cambodia began after I saw the film the Killing Fields in 1984 but for a number of reasons it was only in 2016 that I finally got an opportunity to come and volunteer. The obligatory Google search led me to Globalteer who guided me through the process of applications, background checks etc. and sent pre-trip information and arranged a reassuring chat over Skype with the team in Cambodia."
"It was a nerve-wracking moment to leave home and travel half-way across the world on my own, but a warm welcome and a lovely fruit shake at the volunteer guest house, a helpful orientation session and an afternoon tour of the centre of Siem Reap all assisted in making me feel at home very quickly."
"The next day it was my first journey out to the and an introduction to two inspiring Khmer English teachers; smiling and curious children, eager to learn my name; and the start of a fantastic fortnight of sharing in the tasks of teaching English to the children in this rural village. The journey to and from the village included a stretch along an untarmacked track, which in the rains turned to a quagmire. The tuk-tuk drivers were extraordinarily skilled at keeping their motorbikes upright and our carriage on the road! It was a real privilege to be there and to see how the Khmer teachers at the project manage with so few resources and I learnt a great deal myself and so admire the heart these folk have for the children. Genuine Khmer food, cooked over the open fire in the school ‘kitchen’ and shared with the staff at their weekly meeting was also a treat, though I could not compete with the consumption of added chillis!"
"At the end of my visit all the staff were going on a staff outing to a Buddhist temple and Baray lake. To my delight I was invited along and shared in their free time, experiencing a truly wonderful end to my visit. I had a real sense that I had arrived as a stranger but was leaving as a friend. I returned home to earn some more money in order to come out again … hopefully before another 32 years goes by!!"
"I would highly recommend my time with Globalteer and would come back in the future."
Tim is from the UK and volunteered in September at the Cambodia Community projects for 6 weeks. My Story
In the summer of 2016 I undertook a 6-week placement in Siem Reap, with Globalteer’s Cambodia community Project. I was placed with one of Globalteer’s local NGO partner school, where I worked 5 days a week for the duration of my placement. I had an absolutely fantastic time at the project, helping the teachers out in any way I could. My main work load was working on English pronunciation and some basic and not so basic grammar rules. I absolutely loved my time there; I really enjoyed working on my project and the experience it gave me, being a teacher in a foreign country. I also really liked the country and the people and places of Siem Reap.
During my time in Siem Reap I met other Globalteer volunteers and we all had a great time exploring. We ventured down to the capital, Phnom Penh, where I learnt about the country’s troubled past which was a very moving but worthwhile experience.
My time with the staff in-country was also really good and they definitely helped me out during my stay. I really enjoyed my project work with Globalteer, as well as Cambodia itself. I would highly recommend my time with Globalteer and would come back in the future.
'Life-changing experience'Holly is from the UK, and volunteered at the Cambodia Community Project in September for three weeks.
Volunteering with Globalteer at their partner school was such a life-changing experience. I really felt like I was welcomed as a member of the team. The children were so happy and full of enthusiasm which created a wonderful atmosphere in the classroom. The teachers at the project were excellent and I learnt a great deal from their different teaching styles. I definitely encourage anyone who wants an adventure and loves working with children to sign up!
“If volunteering is something you have thought about, just take a leap of faith and you will be well rewarded with an experience of seeing the real world. It really opens your mind, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”Michelle is from the UK and volunteered at the Cambodia Community Project in October and November 2015 for three weeks.
I chose Globalteer after it jumped out at me when I was looking for volunteering work abroad. I had a very special holiday in Asia at the beginning of 2015, and Siem Reap had the biggest impact on me. After a quick look online, Globalteer was the organisation that really stood out as it was informative, well run, staff replied promptly to questions, the volunteer placement fee was reasonable, and it had the added bonus of offering placements in Cambodia.
I did ask myself “what have I let myself in for?” when on the plane to Cambodia as I was 52 and going completely solo!! But as soon as I walked through the arrival hall and was met by Vith, one of Globalteer’s lovely Khmer staff, I knew I was with people who had a great vision and true inspiration, and that my three week placement would be nothing to worry about. All the Siem Reap team at Globalteer were amazing!
Volunteering at the project
My favourite part of volunteering was seeing the impact it had on the lives of the Cambodian people. It was truly inspiring to volunteer as these projects are making a huge difference and long term improvements in the health, education and empowerment of the wonderful Khmer people.
The work I was involved in covered two projects: women and children. When volunteering with the women they made me feel such a part of their day, and taught me the start and end process of turning a used carry bag into a bright well-made floor mat. I didn't speak their language, but this was no problem as we were all mums, which is a universal bond!
My afternoon placement was with some very amazing and inspirational children. My time consisted of hair washing, brushing, head lice treatments, simple hair put ups, and general fun and games with the best kids I've had the pleasure to meet.
The children, while really bright, happy and caring, all come from hard backgrounds, and without projects like this they would be left very vulnerable. I therefore felt privileged to be part of their day.
Recommendations for future volunteers
I would say to anyone visiting Siem Reap, just to walk around the small city and take in its magic – it's a truly special place.
And if volunteering is something you have thought about, just take a leap of faith and you will be well rewarded with an experience of seeing the real world. It really opens your mind, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It has renewed my faith in people.
I also had the great pleasure of meeting an assortment of other volunteers, as well as team leaders, Khmer teachers, and most importantly a range of inspirational women and children. I would like to thank Siem Reap and its people for making me feel so welcome – I couldn't recommend it enough!
“It's incredible how much you can do just giving some of your time and love to help people, it is truly a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to everyone.”
Herpreet Uppal is a student at London University’s Royal Holloway College who volunteered with the Cambodia Community Project
in July 2015. Looking for the right organisation
I learnt about Globalteer through my university as there was a Globalteer stand at a volunteering fair. I looked Globalteer up online and the programmes they offered looked very interesting, and the whole process seemed organised and well explained. As Globalteer is a registered UK charity, this also helped with my decision making as I knew that the money donated would be going to the right place.
I was extremely excited to go to Cambodia as this was the first time ever that I had travelled without my family. Globalteer made me feel very well informed, and I received everything I needed to know before I went. I also really appreciated having a Skype chat with the volunteer coordinator in Cambodia before I left, and I was given a very useful handbook about the project and my time in Cambodia.
Making a difference at the project
All the staff at the project were very friendly, which allowed me to settle in quickly and be open about any ideas I had.
While at the project, I assisted the English teachers in helping the children with their pronunciation, sentence structures and spelling. I played games with the children and sang nursery rhymes with them, including teaching them Baa Baa Black Sheep, which they all thoroughly enjoyed.
It is very hard to pinpoint the best thing about volunteering as every part of it was extremely rewarding and it opened my eyes to how much the little things in life matter. If I had to choose one thing, however, it would be the smiles on the children's faces when they would get a high five or a 'well done'. Although I was only there for two weeks, it was amazing to see their progress in the smallest of things such as pronouncing 'sh' or spelling a word correctly. Exploring the sights of Cambodia
I loved everything about Cambodia! It's such a beautiful country with very welcoming people and I cannot wait to go back someday. Visiting the landmine museum in Siem Reap was an especially memorable experience, and seeing and learning about the history of Cambodia put a lot of things in perspective. I also visited many temples, which were breath-taking and had unforgettable views. For anyone thinking about volunteering in Cambodia …
I would tell people that no matter what reservations they may have, or how scary it may seem, to definitely travel to a totally different country and do something out of the norm. It is honestly the best thing you could ever do. It is incredible how much you can do giving some of your time and love to help people – it is truly a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to everyone.
You too can have a rewarding experience like Herpreet by getting involved at the Cambodia Community Project
I have never met people so appreciative, positive and enlightening in my lifeTahli Gibson is a chiropractor and former nanny from Australia who volunteered at Globalteer’s rural Cambodian community project in October and November 2014. Here, she talks about her experience assisting with the project’s health and nutrition programme and explains why volunteering was a life-changing experience for her that she will never forget:
“I first found Globalteer when I was searching on the internet for an honest and quality NGO in Cambodia where I felt I could make a meaningful contribution even in just a few weeks. I am glad to say that I couldn't have chosen a better place to spend my time in Cambodia than with the Globalteer-run community project.
"Located in a rural village about 45 minutes by tuk-tuk from Siem Reap this place is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I have done a lot of work with children in Australia but nothing could have prepared me for the experience I had in Cambodia. The smiling faces who were so happy to greet me every day and made me appreciate every minute I spent there. But it also made it difficult to leave!"
My new Cambodian family
“After two weeks helping the teachers with English classes, cleaning the project site, taking BMI's (body mass index) as part of the health and nutrition programme, assisting with first aid and even a few trips to the hospital with students, I felt like I had a new family. I have never met people so appreciative, positive and enlightening in my life and this is even more mind-blowing when you see that they literally have nothing, at least by Western standards - living almost entirely off their land and its produce.
“While I was there I had the opportunity to visit the local village to see my students "houses". I was honestly shocked by what I saw. Most families live in a square hut no bigger than my lounge room with the furniture consisting of only mats to sleep on and a mosquito net (some don't even have one). I was trying to picture my students doing their homework before the sun went down (given there is no power). These children are not forced by authorities to come to classes at the project - like we are in Australia - they do it because they love learning. This makes it all the more special.
You hear people say they have had life-changing experiences. This was.Sally Bateman (pictured, second from right) is a 56 year-old former Pre-school assistant from Western Australia who volunteered with Globalteer’s Cambodia Community Project for 2 weeks in November 2014. For her placement Sally was assigned to a rural community project located 25km from Siem Reap were she helped local staff with English classes. Here is Sally’s account of her time at the project.
“I first heard about Globalteer in 2011 but it took me 3 years and several false starts before I made contact with them in early 2014 and was ready to commit to a project. I desperately wanted to work with children and read all about it on both the Globalteer website and through my contact with Globalteer's Cambodian Volunteer Coordinators."
A life-changing experience
“You hear people say that they have had life changing experiences. This was. At 56 and with my own children in their early 20’s I wondered if I would fit in, both at the school but also with the other volunteers. I needn’t have worried. The Globalteer Volunteer Coordinator and Project Manager are warm, welcoming and provide a comprehensive tour of Siem Reap as well as a visit to your project to get a feel for where you will be working.
"The volunteers I met on my first day will, I hope, remain lifelong friends. No matter our ages, we were all sharing an experience that would change us and create amazing memories. There was a lot of laughter and, when it was time to say goodbye, many tears.
“You can’t help but be affected by the Cambodian people. They have so little but give so much. Their smiles and warmth, acceptance of their life and appreciation of even the smallest things are very humbling.
“But it was the children at the project that truly won my heart. My role in the school was to assist the teachers by working with the children on pronunciation and to allow them to hear English from a native speaker. I was also lucky enough to be able to prepare and deliver some very easy lessons – something I never expected to do but which I thoroughly enjoyed".
Giving the kids a chance
“During my 2 weeks I also visited the village homes of some of the children with the project staff as part of an ongoing needs assessment. It is obvious that the parents of these children, some of whom have no literacy or numeracy and suffer debilitating illness, are desperate for their children to have the opportunity of education that they didn’t have. The project plays a big part in this.
“Leaving was a very emotional experience. All I did was give up 2 weeks of my time. In return I received the experience of a life time. The teachers and children at the project are exceptional. They are the future of Cambodia. Although they come from a very poor village that is barely accessible by road during some times of the year, with no electricity, plumbing or clean water these children aspire to be doctors, teachers, accountants and movie stars! I have no doubt that these dreams, for at least for some of the children, will be realised.
“My heartfelt thanks to the children and families of the village, the teachers, the Project Manager Lisa, who is doing amazing work, the Volunteer Coordinator and my lovely fellow volunteers for the most wonderful time of my life. I will be back.”
Really making a difference
“It was emotionally life-changing to see how people live in these rural parts of Cambodia. Having a background in the health profession, seeing so much disease and disability was very confronting for me. Rural Cambodians have no concept of a “health care system
” and I was lucky enough to help take a few families to the Angkor Children Hospital where they provide free care and medication.
“This is not as simple quick fix though, as spreading health and hygiene awareness
is the only way of preventing certain cases of sickness and disease from getting too severe. This is one of the steps the project is taking with their breakfast programme
as an alarming number of problems are caused by malnutrition. Globalteer has to be commended for providing transport, food and support to families in the village for their health care.
“An example of going above and beyond is sending tuk-tuk drivers at 5am to pick up families from the village and bring them into town for check-ups and operations. Lisa (the project manager) even spent her Saturday at the hospital to make sure one of the students was OK. The compassion I witnessed was infectious
and I am so glad I chose to donate to Globalteer. If you are thinking of doing something to help I could not recommend Globalteer enough. It is a once in a lifetime experience."
If you would like to follow in Tahli’s footsteps and help us to help improve the lives of rural Cambodian families then please visit our Cambodia Community Project
What Globalteer is doing in Siem Reap is amazing, all of the projects don’t just help the kids but the families and the wider community tooAustralian Friends Emily Fewtrell (right) and Grace Barker (below) made the most of their long uni break by spending 2 weeks volunteering with Globalteer’s Cambodia Community Project in January 2014. The girls were placed at one of Globalteer’s new partner schools, situated a 50 minute tuk tuk ride away from Siem Reap, which provides free education to, amongst others, the children of families who live and work on a nearby rubbish dump.
Volunteers assist in the classroom during the morning and afternoon English lessons. The school also has a library where volunteers spend time helping students with their English reading and conversation. Grace and Emily were also involved in other activities such as simple sports sessions for extra students during the lunch hour when there is also the chance to explore the village. Both volunteers were struck by how welcoming the entire community was to them.
Emily explains how a friend’s recommendation to volunteer with Globalteer helped them to realise their ambition of doing something to help the underpivileged,
“We always wanted to help in some way but didn’t know how. Globalteer provided the perfect program to help out the less fortunate and see local culture in the villages of Cambodia. I chose Globalteer because a friend had done the program a year earlier and highly recommended it”.
“The organisation looked after us so well with our accommodation, transport
. Having that support system
through Globalteer is very comforting especially for a first time volunteer.”
A very busy two weeks...
“It’s hard to highlight a few things but I loved seeing how the children were so eager to learn, being able to interact with the staff and learn about Cambodian culture
and just playing games and being active with the kids. The tuk-tuk journey to school in the mornings passes by the royal palace, the biggest market in the area and plenty of beautiful Cambodian countryside”
And Emily adds, “Every morning driving into the school and seeing the smiling kids
excited to learn and play, can’t help but bring a smile to your face.” So far away, but so worth it
“Being at such a remote village - Anlung Pi is a 50 minute tuk-tuk ride from Siem Reap - we shared lunch with the teachers every day and we learnt so much about Cambodian culture, food and local life. From pumping water
, to learning how to cook local cuisine
, it was amazing. We became very close with the teachers, they were young like us (20 & 21), it was sad to leave them at the end of our 2 weeks there. “
The village experience was unique for Grace too who advises volunteers, “be prepared for longer days but make the most of the experience with the people you interact with, and make sure you get out and see the whole village just to be more aware of how the children live every day. “ Just go for it!
Finally, Emily urges anyone unsure about volunteering to just go for it,
“I would recommend Globalteer in a heartbeat. What Globalteer is doing throughout the community
in Siem Reap is amazing, all of the projects don’t just help the kids but the families and wider community too. They are very organized and efficient too. All of the other volunteers were lovely, we’ve definitely made some friends for life, not to mention contacts from all around the world.”
Read more about how you can volunteer
with Globalteer in Cambodia
It is a sustainable project where the progress you make in only 2 weeks can benefit numerous communities for generationsYasmeen Hassan (18, left) and Heidi Asquith (19, right), two Melbourne-based students, got their hands dirty during a two week stint at the Clean Water Project in Cambodia during their uni holidays in Jan 2014. When asked about their choice of placement they said,
“We wanted to volunteer at the Cambodia Clean Water Project as it is a sustainable project where the progress you make in only 2 weeks can benefit numerous communities for generations. This lasting and long-term impact was what we wanted to be a part of and Globalteer offered a safe and secure way to achieve this.”
The project is based on a work site not far from the centre of Siem Reap and the girls got involved wherever they were needed. Their tasks included washing sand, sifting sand, mixing concrete and painting completed water filters. As both volunteers agreed,
“Experience is not a necessity. A combination of a positive attitude, an eagerness to learn and a willingness to get yourself dirty should translate into a very rewarding experience.”
Working closely with a local team and sharing tasks with other volunteers resulted in a great atmosphere on site which added to their experience,
“The Clean Water Project has team of good-natured staff that are willing to help and guide you through the process. We found that it was a very harmonious environment to work in with great relationships forged between staff and volunteers.”
On several days the team delivered the water filters they had made to local communities by truck. This is often the highlight of the volunteers’ week as it them to see first-hand the real need for the clean water project.
“Travelling to the rural villages on delivery day was an unforgettable and humbling experience. Meeting the beneficiaries and watching them use the filters with the knowledge of the difference that clean water would make evoked a very satisfying feeling.”
As a final comment, volunteers Yasmeen and Heidi said,
“We would definitely recommend Globalteer to friends and family as it provided a safe environment to explore Cambodia and volunteer at a fantastic organisation.”
If you would like to see two very different aspects of Cambodia then I would highly recommend doing both projects
British volunteer Beth Pedersen completed a stint at two Globalteer projects in Cambodia between November 2013 and January 2014. She started with 2 weeks at the Cambodia Elephant Sanctuary
in undeveloped Northeastern Cambodia, followed by 8 weeks in a school at the Cambodia Community Project
in Siem Reap.
Despite being used to London life Beth adapted instantly to both projects, making great friends to travel with between the two projects and getting enough local knowledge to explore even more of Cambodia once her placements ended.
When questioned on her experience after volunteering at two projects Beth said,
“They were so different to each other that I got to explore two completely varied ways of life in Cambodia. It also made the trip seem longer (in a good way) due to the contrast between them. I feel so privileged that I got to experience both.” Getting from A to B
The projects are located in two different parts of the country but Beth explained how simple transport arrangements
“I hadn’t sorted how I was going to get from one project to the other until I arrived, but it was pretty easy. The elephant project provides a bus back to Phnom Penh
so I took that and then booked a bus onto Siem Reap
. I had a couple of days between the two projects so I stayed in Phnom Penh and visited the Killing Fields and the old Khmer Rouge Prison, S21 – which certainly added another dimension to the trip.”
Beth says that comparing the two projects was difficult as they were both so unique, “Being out in the middle of nowhere at the Cambodia Elephant Sanctuary, experiencing the rural side to Cambodia
was a real highlight; and of course being with the elephants. It was fantastic to watch them day to day and the absolute highlight was bathing them – I never tired of that.
At the Cambodia Community Project, getting to know the locals – both the children and teachers - was a real privilege and an insight
. Also, learning to communicate with the students, who did not speak great English, and still being able to engage with them and help them learn – in fact more than that, helping the to enjoy learning - was another real highlight.”
And as for advice for potential volunteers unsure about which projects to go with, Beth says
“If you would like to see two very different aspects of Cambodia then I would highly recommend doing both projects. I felt I experienced two great perspectives of this fascinating country.”
You can see more photographs of the Cambodia Community project in our Volunteer Cambodia gallery.
For more information on volunteer opportunities at the Cambodia elephant sanctuary plese go to our Volunteer Cambodia Elephant Sanctuary
The people here have such hard lives but are so positive and cheerful. It does make you reconsider your own values and how fortunate we areAnne Taylor, a teacher from England, committed four weeks to volunteering with the Cambodia Community Project in November 2013. Anne had previously volunterd with Globalteer at our Peru Community Projet in Cusco and her fantastic teaching experience alongside her sewing and creative skills were utilized at both projects.
In Peru Anne had led hugely popular creative workshops with the young students and in Cambodia she was placed at a community school which also included a sewing school for local adults. Here she contributed to the development of new designs using local fabrics to sell in the town centre.
Making the most of Anne's talents
Anne‘s skills were thoroughly utilized by Globalteer, and she recognises how the organisation is flexible enough to work with volunteers who have little experience as well:
“At the Cambodia Community Project I was placed at, they were looking for ideas [for new items to make] and I have enough skill to turn ideas into something they can work with further. We have had some ideas for products and also for teaching English and these seem to be being adopted. The sewing students like to see me there - they like to see different products and how they are made and also want to practice English. They are very keen to learn.”
With Anne’s assistance the students produced some great new items to sell including shoulder bags, bow ties and cummerbunds. She went with the sewing teacher to the large material market in Siem Reap to track down beautiful Cambodian fabrics to use in the products.
Why Anne recommends Globalteer
Anne is sure to spread the word about the benefits of volunteering with Globalteer at the Cambodia Community Project,
“I have mentioned Globalteer to lots of people, unfortunately most of my friends think it is too adventurous although I do tell them they would get lots of support! Cambodia is a great place to volunteer and the number of volunteers means there is a lot going on socially and everyone is sociable. It’s interesting to know about all the other projects. The school have been very welcoming too- we enjoyed a wonderful BBQ when one of the long-term teachers left. They invited all their volunteers.”
And as a final summary before Anne left, she said,
“I know it sounds trite but it is a life-changing experience. The people here have such hard lives but are so positive and cheerful. It does make you reconsider your own values and how fortunate we are.”
I think Globalteer is a fantastic place for first-time volunteers, as well as experienced onesPriya Burci (right of picture) volunteered with the Cambodia Community Project together with her school friend Julia Vanian in July 2013. Priya was making the most of a long summer holiday before knuckling down to study a 3 year degree in International Development and International Relations.
The 18 year old who lives in Switzerland helped out with a buzzing class of kids in rural Siem Reap for 2 weeks. She fully embraced local culture and her volunteering duties, cycling out to the project every day despite the unpredictable weather.
Priya had spent time volunteering in Africa but felt that Globalteer was such a great supportive organization that it would work well for all sorts of people, including those new to volunteering, like her her friend Julia.
Why choose Globalteer?
“I think Globalteer is a fantastic place for first-time volunteers, as well as experienced ones. Everyone was extremely helpful and friendly. I already have recommended volunteering through Globalteer to many people, and will continue to do so. The projects it offers are very interesting and diverse, and the organization is extremely organized and efficient.”
As a volunteer, Priya assisted a trained local Khmer teacher with English lessons and various workshops. Her class was an enthusiastic group of 8-10 year olds who had 3 years of English education to practice on her! The activities were varied and she had the chance to bring some new ideas as well as supporting her class teacher with the established curriculum. Priya spent time engaging the children in story time, sitting at the front of the class and holding the entire group’s attention! When talking about her time as a Globalteer volunteer, Priya jokes,
“It’s so difficult to pick highlights! If I had to choose, I would say teaching songs to the children, who are always so enthusiastic to learn new music.”
What makes Cambodia so special?
Despite never having travelled in Asia before, Priya loved Cambodia agreeing that volunteers here can settle in easily with a culture which is famous for being so welcoming. Moreover, Siem Reap, where the Cambodia Community Project volunteers are based has plenty to entertain everyone. Priya enjoyed exploring the town and the nearby temples, bargaining in the markets and choosing from the wide range of dining options:
“Siem Reap is a perfect place to go if you are not quite comfortable with travelling in a developing country, as it has all the amenities you may need if anything goes wrong, and everyone is extremely friendly.”
We think Priya was a fantastic volunteer and wish her the best of luck with her studies. We look forward to seeing her back in the classroom during another student holiday!
I felt completely safe knowing that I had the full support and backup of the Globalteer team in Cambodia.
Chas Noble, a 60-year old retired telecoms engineer and manager from the UK had been thinking about volunteering for a number of years, and retirement gave him just the opportunity he was looking for to fulfil his ambition. Despite being involved in charity fund-raising locally, Chas (pictured right, helping to drill a well) had never done any kind of hands-on volunteering before, so was a little bit apprehensive when he started looking for overseas projects. But after searching the internet for a suitable volunteer project he found Globalteer, and as he put it,
“After looking at all the different types of projects on offer I decided that Globalteer’s clean water project was the one for me.”
Although Chas is a keen DIY’er and has worked as an engineer he had never done any kind of work related to water management so we asked him if he felt that was a disadvantage for him. His reply came through loud and clear,
“No, not at all – you just need to be reasonably fit and willing to undertake different tasks under supervision until trained in the different aspects of building water filters - sifting and cleaning sand and gravel, painting and generally helping the permanent project workers.”
Chas tells us more about his experience with our Cambodia water filter project... I made great friends and felt completely safe
“The main highlights were in actually going out delivering the water filters to the remote villages. All the kids would gather round to watch and take an interest as the team explained how to use the filters. I also made a number of good friends, both with the permanent team, and fellow volunteers. We would often meet up in the evenings to socialise, have a few drinks and meals together.
“I felt completely “safe” in knowing that I had the full support and back up of the Globalteer team in Cambodia if I needed any help. Also it was great to meet like-minded people volunteering through Globalteer both on the clean water project and on the teaching projects.
“Globalteer staff and the staff at the actual project itself were very friendly and would take time to make us volunteers feel at ease. realising that we wanted to help in any way we could. The other volunteers were a mixture of different nationalities, British, Canadians, Americans and Australians, and it was a good feeling turning up to work meeting ad chatting about our different experiences both travelling and tales from our home countries. My advice to anyone thinking of volunteering
“The only other thing I would say to people thinking about volunteering is this: Mark Twain said: 20 years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
If you would like to spend some time bringing life-saving clean water to Cambodian villagers then visit our Volunteer Cambodia Community Project Pages
to find out how you can follow in Chas's footsteps.
My experience at the clean water project was so much more than I was hoping for… the two weeks I had were amazing, but it wasn’t nearly enough
29 year-old Calvin Wong from Malaysia (far left) took 2 weeks off from his busy city job to join the Cambodia clean water project
in July 2013. Calvin would jump on one of the mountain bikes provided by Globalteer and cycle the 20 minutes to the water filter construction site every morning. Here he describes a typical week to us:
“After the introduction, I was introduced to other volunteers and showed the steps that go into making a water filter. These steps include sifting sand, setting up the filter mould, mixing concrete, pouring concrete into the mould, removing the mould, washing the concrete filter, and finally painting it. The first 3 days of a week typically consists of repeating these steps to produce a maximum of 6 filters a day. This usually starts in the morning and closes off by noon, as we have to wait for the concrete to dry in the mould before being able to proceed with anything else.
“On Thursday, I joined the water filter team in delivering water filters to the respective beneficiaries. Preparations are made in the morning back at site by packing up bags of gravel, a few gurney sacks of sand (heavy), and the whole concrete filter itself (much heavier! Each must have weighed at least 100 kgs!) onto the back of a truck. What follows is sitting on the back of a truck for an hour long drive out to the rural villages in the outskirts of Siem Reap. Travelling to the villages
“This is where things get surreal as I am introduced to new sights of poverty I have never come across. Villages with barely a driven path, wooden houses on stilts and farm animals, some without a consistent water source (and by consistent water source, I meant a well), children taking baths in muddy rivers, and villagers using buffalo carts as a means of transport to the city to sell their wares.
"The beneficiaries of the water filters are usually the luckier ones, as they would have a well dug by our ‘well digging’ team before they would get the water filters. Delivering the water filters involve setting it up and educating the new owners how to use, maintain and clean them for everyday use. The whole process of delivering wells would usually last until the late evening, with lunch usually taken at the community elder’s house. By the end of the day, I would usually end up exhausted and dirty all over. “ The amazing Cambodian spirit
“The staff showed me the Cambodian spirit that helped build the country after the Khmer Rogue regime. It is amazing to see their discipline and efforts, taking pride in their work
to contribute to the development of the rural areas. Never have I once seen any of them vent out their frustration despite facing various adversities. They have been all smiles
, warm and welcoming.
“My experience at the water filter project was so much more than I was hoping for. I had hoped to experience how a water project can contribute to a sustainable development. I learnt that so much more about the additional efforts that they contribute to development of the communities they worked with.
"The insight I gained through this experience opened up a new perspective in terms of poverty. I had mixed feelings as I went through these experiences, but I appreciate every single one of them. I believe I have changed as a person having gone through these events. If there is anything I would say as a final advice to other volunteers for this experience, it would be that the 2 weeks I had were amazing, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Amazing people, awesome experiences
"The best highlight of my time at Globalteer was the other volunteers I met from various other different projects. Despite being the only one from the clean water project most of the time, everyone was warm and welcoming, especially after a few beers and cocktails. I would most definitely recommend Globalteer to friends and family, Why? Amazing people, well organized and awesome experiences."
Find out more about volunteering at Globalteer's water filter project on our Volunteer Cambodia Community Project
“I absolutely loved Siem Reap and I was lucky enough to get involved with a really sustainable and worthwhile programme”22 year-old Alex Findlay already had some volunteering experience back home in Melbourne, Australia when he decided to take up a placement with Globalteer’s Cambodia children’s project in Siem Reap. And he makes no bones about what motivates him to help underprivileged children, wherever they are, as he explained.
“There are few experiences in life more rewarding than having a positive influence on a child and their future. From a personal point of view I find that children have an incredible and seemingly innate ability to remind me of everything that's good in humanity and they never fail to bring out the best in me”.
With expectations clearly high, Alex arrived in Cambodia at the height of the hot season, in April 2012. This is his story.
“Cambodia's challenging history is obviously no secret so when I was looking for countries that truly need the help of foreign volunteers it was high on my list. As soon as I stepped out of the airport and into Siem Reap itself I was overcome with an inexplicable calmness and it was a feeling that stayed with me the entire time I was in Cambodia.
“My desire to do something for Cambodia was constantly rewarded throughout my time there by the extremely friendly and welcoming nature of the people and the natural beauty that the country itself offers to people who explore it”.
Settling in at the Globalteer guest house [Alex stayed at our previous accommodation, Globalteer House]
“There's a fantastic rooftop area at the guesthouse, it's a bit cooler up there, lots of chairs, tables and sofas to settle into as you enjoy the wifi and the amazing view of Siem Reap sunsets.
“The local security guards working there are also really friendly and always love a chat, I spent a week as the only volunteer in the Globalteer guesthouse and the guys always made sure that I never felt too lonely.
“Getting from Globalteer house to the project was hot and sweaty business, but that's mainly because I chose to cycle everywhere I went in Siem Reap and it was the middle of dry/hot season. I still loved cycling through town and along the river each day though, getting more and more familiar with the area and getting to see the kids that lived along the route who would say hello and enthusiastically wave as you rode past in the morning”.
Volunteering at the children’s project
“I was working with the beginner classes at the project so initially I found the language barrier to be a new challenge for me but you adapt to it pretty quickly as you work out the English capabilities of the children and your own capabilities of non-verbal communication. I always endeavor to learn a few vital parts of the local language in every country that I visit anyway because I find that it's makes your time there a lot easier and a lot more rewarding.
“Even before I had learnt any Khmer it was very easy to communicate with almost everyone in Siem Reap - English is very widely spoken there and a lot of locals are looking to improve their English skills and always enjoy the opportunity to speak it with foreigners. And the local teachers working at the school are excellent and happily translate anything too complicated”.
All good things come to an end…
“My feelings when I had to leave could best be described as bittersweet. My last day at the project was incredible, the kids were amazing and we spent the day having heaps of fun. Looking back I couldn't have asked for a better finish to my time there but it also made it that much harder to leave.
“I absolutely loved Siem Reap and I was lucky enough to get involved with a really sustainable and worthwhile programme. I'd love to come back and help out again with the school and with the development of their youth-club, and also just to hang out with some incredible kids!
…or do they?
Since writing about his experiences with Globalteer, Alex travelled on to Laos and Thailand has recently returned to Siem Reap. He currently has no plans to leave…
"The greatest highlights were simply being with children...and the friendships I made"Faced with the choice of two weeks in Cuba celebrating a 30th birthday or following in the footsteps of a friend who had volunteered with underprivileged children in Cambodia prompted an unexpectedly easy decision for 29 year-old PR exec Helen Jacobs from Canberra, Australia.
Despite having travelled extensively in Europe, Helen had never been to Asia apart from a brief stopover in Hong Kong and a three day break in Kuala Lumpur. But the potential for culture shock didn’t put her off and once she had seen her friend’s photographs of Cambodia she knew instantly that Cuba would just have to wait.
The fact that Helen knew very little about Cambodia just added to its allure, so in January 2012 she set off to catch her flight to Siem Reap via Singapore. Here, Helen tells us what she found when she got to Cambodia.
Adapting to "Cambodian ways"
“Watching water buffalo graze on the side of a road from a tuk-tuk weaving in and out of traffic just blew me away - and that was just from the airport to Globalteer’s volunteer house! Then negotiating the bike ride from Globalteer to school – roughly 4km each way on bitumen and gravel, sharing the roads with motos, tuk-tuks, cars, buses and trucks – that’s when I knew I could ride anywhere. Seriously, I loved it. It was a great way to start the day with sunshine and some exercise; a great way to see the town and its surrounds and wave to the locals.
"One day I ran into a moto on my bicycle at a very busy intersection and fell off. The lady just smiled and said "no problem" and drove off! Where was the road rage? It still amazes me how happy and gentle the Cambodians are! I have to admit, I was extremely lucky to get a lift with one of the teachers on the back of their moto each morning – now that’s exhilarating! I still can’t understand how so many Khmers can fit on a single bike though!
"I really embraced the opportunity of being in Cambodia to learn a little Khmer and help the locals with their English. I remember stopping to ask some students about a chanting service at a Pagoda. It turned out they were waiting to attend their English class so we kept talking for a while in English so they could practice!"
My friendly home away from home
"I had chosen Globalteer thanks to my friend’s recommendation; I felt confident I would have the help and support of an organisation and its staff while staying in country I was unfamiliar with. And Globlateer’s accommodation was a home away from home – the staff were so friendly and helpful, the room was spacious and well-equipped (fresh linen, lock box, tv, fan, cupboard space, ensuite), there was access to lots of facilities and services (room serviced, internet, laundry, kitchen, tourism information), it was clean and tidy and well located".
Getting stuck in to volunteering
"At the project I think the children may have actually taught me more than I could have ever imparted on them. In fact the greatest highlights were simply being with children and the friendships I made. I hope though, that by being with them, reading stories, playing games, talking and generally caring for and taking an interest in them, that they can enjoy being children a bit longer.
"Initially I had this feeling of helplessness whenever I saw a young child begging or someone not having access to basic healthcare. It's quite pulverizing. But over the weeks I learnt to reassure myself that I was doing a little bit towards helping. I find comfort in knowing the wonderful work Globalteer and its volunteers do will continue to help the people of Cambodia.
It was very hard saying goodbye. I didn't want to leave but I knew it would get harder the longer I stayed. I was overwhelmed with so many cuddles and beautiful gifts on my last day at school that I will treasure. I’m already planning my next volunteering trip. I think it’s a really valuable way of traveling and experiencing the ‘real’ world – how people live day-to-day. The whole experience is simply life-changing. I hope my future experiences will be longer-term. And next time I visit Cambodia I am determined to try that local delicacy - deep fried tarantula!"
Globalteer was a seriously well organised charity...
Click below to read an article about volunteering in Cambodia by previous volunteer, Simon Hare, featured in Real Travel Magazine.
Simon & Colin volunteer experience
Messenger Deputy Editor KARA PHILLIPS spent two weeks teaching English to poverty stricken children in Cambodia. This is her story:
CHILDREN grin from ear-to-ear as they play chasey and fly kites made from twigs and discarded plastic bags.
One little boy hits a balloon in the air, dust flying as he chases it across the paddock, squealing with laughter when it falls to the ground.
A group of teenage girls pull their bikes into the schoolyard, gossiping and giggling among themselves.
This is the school in Mondul 3, a village which lies between the bustle of Siem Reap and the wonder of the ancient Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia.
The scene appears happy enough, until you look closer and realise starved bodies, bloated, malnourished bellies, threadbare T-shirts and tired eyes are these children’s uniforms. Most children have just one parent or none at all, with fathers killed while serving in the army and mothers dead through sickness and disease. They have no money for books or uniforms and many are needed at home to run households while parents or older siblings work.
Until the project opened in December 2007, there was no school, so most residents have no formal education or vocational skills. Instead, more than 300 girls in the village make a living as 'Karaoke' entertainers. These girls, many no older than 14, gather in groups on the dusk-lit roadside in front of their Karaoke bars, applying make-up and brushing their hair, preparing for the dark night ahead. I watch them as my tuk tuk - a motorbike with seated carriage on the back - chugs down the pot-holed dirt road after my first day as a volunteer English teacher.
I had decided to volunteer in the hope of making a positive change to our global community. I chose Cambodia a place I had long wanted to visit.
'I have an education, a family that I can feed I want to give other people that chance' the director says. So he opened the project, a two roomed grass hut offering free language education to locals of all ages.
I have been here just a few days and already I have witnessed a mother, tears streaming down her face, begging the project staff to take her tiny newborn because she is unable to feed him. I have met a one-year-old who will likely not live to see his fourth birthday as he has HIV and TB. I have watched an elderly man lying, waiting to die the hepatitis so bad his skin and eyes are a bright yellow.
And that afternoon I meet Srey’s father, smelling of alcohol and slurring his words, demanding his son back so he can sell him and, with the profits, search for the wife who abandoned them.
Srey clutches a hand: 'I don’t want to go, he hits me.'
A monk calms the man down and convinces him to leave.
But my time as a volunteer has been far from gloomy.
I have seen these children squeal with genuine delight at the most simplest of life’s little pleasures. One day a group of us go out to the village armed with Aussie toy-tattoos and stickers and are quickly surrounded by a hoard of giggling children shouting 'Aussie, aussie, aussie, oi, oi, oi!’.'
I have seen the mothers, who get up at 4am every day and work through until midnight just to put food on the table, who are thankful for even the smallest of opportunities to turn their lives around.
At the end of each class I teach, several students, palms pressed together, bow their heads and say: 'Thank you 'cher (teacher), see you tomorrow'. Others run and wrap their arm arms around me: 'I love you `cher!'
I start to understand what the director means: How could anyone see this and not help?
Last month, the project provided 95 families with 1550kg of rice, soy sauce, seasoning and fish sauce. This may be the only food these families eat for an entire month. About 15 babies, whose mums can’t produce breast milk, were also given formula. 'It’s hard, we have to make choices every day about who gets on the rice list, which children get taken to hospital,' the director tells me. 'It’s a choice between the sick and starving and the more sick and starving.'
The project also gave away four bicycles, allowing families to collect rubbish to sell for income, ride to school and to reach the local markets.
'This is why we want to build sustainable projects, such as a fish farm to provide income to support the community and thus enable families to start their own micro-businesses for long term security.'
'The rice list is simply to stop people from dying, or selling their kids into the sex trade. But our real vision is for long-term sustainable projects.'
On my second to last day in Cambodia, Tim, 30, a volunteer who was born in Siem Reap but fled with his family to Adelaide in 1980, takes me out into the village one last time. 'This could easily have been my fate,' he says. 'Now it’s my turn to give something back, to give these people the chance they deserve.' We are both in a sombre mood. Srey has had blood tests to see whether he, like both his parents, has HIV. The results arrive tomorrow. Until then we must wait.
Tim takes me to meet Srey, 24, and her newborn baby Srey Mon, who is just four weeks old. Srey’s parents were murdered during the Civil War. She lived on the streets until she eventually found her way to a public orphanage in Siem Reap. At the age of 20 and with no education, Srey left the confines of the orphanage to wait tables seven days a week, until she met who she thought was the 'love of her life'. He promised to look after her and marry her but, when she told him she was expecting his baby, he beat her and abandoned her.
She wandered the streets of Siem Reap with no money, food or water, until a security guard from Mondul 3 took her home to his family. Srey now resides in the old school building and the project has employed Art, a sprightly but homeless grandmother, to help the family. Srey will attend English and vocational classes and now has regular food and shelter, thanks to sponsorship by an Adelaide couple.
The following evening Tim brings me news of Srey’s test results: 'He’s negative for HIV, for hepatitis, for everything. Nak didn’t know what all the fuss was about, he just smiled quietly, not really understanding.'
But for those who volunteer their time and their hearts to those in Mondul 3, this news is a precious gift.
The gift of hope.
Kara Phillips - Messenger Deputy Editor
I look forward to the day I can return...Volunteering with globalteer was an experience that will never leave me. From living with volunteers from all over the world to interacting with the amazing people of Cambodia was a wonderful priviledge. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks of fun, laughter and many other emotions...... I look forward to the day I can return and experience more of Globalteer and its great projects
Article in 'the vine' Australian news section:
Sick of sipping mojitos poolside? Want to develop your altruistic potential? Then voluntourism may be for you! Voluntourism or “experiential travel” is one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel market. It ticks all the boxes; it allows tourists to promote giving values, experience a lifestyle change and absorb local culture through active interaction.
The number of companies offering volunteer programs overseas is rapidly growing. But there is often a problem on the ground, with an increasing number of organisations struggling to provide quality experiences that are not intrusive or disruptive to the local communities. Worse, some volunteer projects take jobs away from locals.
There are countless stories online from volunteers who have felt trapped, exploited and exploitative. The last thing anyone wants is to pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of digging toilets for people who don’t need them.
Finding the right travel provider and project is key. When she decided to take extended leave from her job as a TV production manager, she booked her placement thru a UK-based not-for-profit organisation called Globalteer. Robyn says that anyone considering volunteer placements should ensure that the organisation is a registered charity and that the financial records are available and fully transparent.
Robyn recommends that would-be voluntourists think about their strengths and what they can offer the locals that will allow them to develop their own skill set. “As a volunteer teacher, you can't expect to change the world overnight or to make a huge impact on these children's lives but a little bit of help can go a very long way,” she says.
Emotionally, the experience can also be very demanding. Though she is inspired by the kids’ passion for learning, Robyn says she is also heartbroken everyday when she hears their tales of hardship and struggles. So potential volunteers should know their limitations; be realistic about whether they can handle the emotional challenges, extreme weather conditions, physical activity and the language barriers.
Of her time in Cambodia, Robyn says: “Volunteering is a rewarding and challenging experience, the kids I work with all come from poor families, many of them can't afford to go to public school so this is the only education they are receiving. They are an enthusiastic group of kids, their smiles and hugs are priceless. Without a doubt this experience is one of the best things I have ever done in my life and the friendships I have established with these children will be cherished forever.”
Click here to read the full article in the vine.
Cambodia challenges your senses...I had a fantastic time volunteering with Globalteer at the community project. I met some truly inspiring people (not least the children) and seen how even a little can go a long way if you try. I've witnessed some beautiful but also emotional sights and made some great friends. I can also now cook a great Amok. Cambodia challenges your senses and
it's an experience that I will not forget. As soon as I left I wanted to go back.
You are never on your own with globalteer...I spent 7 weeks at the globalteer house in Siem reap and i was working on the G.C.D.C project and I have to say I had the most amazing time of my life and hoping to return in November. The project itself is a first for globalteer and I'm very proud to have been there during this exciting time, my time that i spent at the house was made so much better because of the staff and the support they offered, you are never on your own with globalteer, the volunteer coordinator was very helpful in showing me around town and organising events for the volunteers, the charity itself i can safely is 100% bona fide they are committed to providing local charities with funding and volunteers.
I had a great feeling about Siem Reap...As soon as I got off the plane, I had a great feeling about Siem Reap. Then I was told I was going to be volunteering for the Giant Puppet Project. I couldn't believe my luck, I always wanted to do art with kids. We had 350 kids who don't speak too much English make 8 giant puppets and have a parade. It was definitely one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The kids had a blast. I've returned home inspired to volunteer and make art. Thank you!
The enthusiasm of these kids to learn is inspiring...Arriving at the project, one is swamped by lively, boisterous enthusiastically welcoming children. Playing games is fun and teaching English was a real treat. I had never taught English before but I jumped right in and enjoyed it. The enthusiasm of these kids to learn is inspiring. Their energy and personalities are heart warming.
The pictures they draw for you are just beautiful and the sweet things they say, their smiles, just melt your heart. They are boisterous and some have behavioural difficulties, and often they play fight with each other, as they have had bad experiences and some a difficult home life and not the best role models. This is why the Day Centre is such a great place, a safe haven away from this and a chance to learn and have positive, fun experiences.
I also taught in the evenings at the Poverty Development school run by monks. The volunteer teachers that the school relys upon to teach English are always sought after and sometimes there are not enough teachers for all the classes. I was priveliged to teach the older teenagers and advanced classes and it was really enjoyable. These kids are intelligent and eager to learn and also have warm hearts, great sense of humour and it was really insightful to talk to them and learn about their life.
Some of these students have finished public education and now want to learn English while others study at public school during the day and then come to the school to study more in the evening. Other students can't afford public school, which requires a small daily fee. On the second last day I was sung to by some of the sweet students in my class and it was very moving. Making a connection with people and giving students a chance to improve their English was a wonderful experience.
The classes were fun to teach...I love the orphanage and have every intention of returning within the year. It was a little slow starting but nothing a little patience and initiative can't manage, but I did like the flexibility. The classes were fun to teach, the library had all the resources I needed, all the kids are great, and despite being an "English teacher" I was able to do so much more. Towards the end we were going to the center everyday instead of the originally scheduled 4 because we loved it there that much.
The money also bought a class set of text books...I retired from teaching Dec. 2005 after having taught at Mt.Martha primary for the last 24 years. When I arrived in Siem Reap I taught at the day centre in the mornings, and then I’d teach from 5-00p.m -7-00p.m. at the ‘School for Poverty Children’ run by the Monks. They have 500 children through each day. 1 hr. lessons. One grade had 56 Children in it. All so eager to learn English.
Rem met me at the airport with his Tuk-Tuk and I knew straight away that it was going to work. The children at the day centre stole my heart. Especially the toddlers who wander in without a stitch on and stay playing all morning. Not a parent in sight. The kids arrive at school whenever their parents allow them time off from begging. They shower, wash their hair, change into their T.shirts, then wash their own clothes. Time to play. Have a hug. English classes, a hot lunch, then back out onto the streets.
"The sad reality is that these children, as young as 5 yrs. old, are often the primary breadwinners for their families. Their living conditions are desperate, either living in very poor housing or no housing at all." I actually saw one family sleeping on the footpath in town, open to abuse and disease. I had collected an extra donation to the project that I raised from my golf club back home. I hadn’t mentioned our donations to Rem until I was sure the money would be used wisely.
When I saw Rem with an enormous bunch of bananas to share, and a bag of rice for each child to take home each Friday, I knew it was O.K. The money also bought a class set of text books, school uniforms and books for the children who were allowed time off from begging to attend their own local Khmer school. We also paid the $10 annual school fees for some of these children. Food for lunches. Rent and helping this struggling young couple to make a difference.
You will be so glad you helped to put a smile on these kids faces- anyone with a heart would!
"My experience with helping the day centre project was one i was proud to be a part of. So many tourists come to Angkor Wat without seeing the real cambodia, when its so easy to help out, even for just a few hours. Because these beautiful children don't offen get the chance to learn or play they are so happy and well behaved its amazing. The great thing about doing volenteer work through globalteer is it allows you to make a difference and have fun at the same time!
If you feel compelled to do something good for others, you will be so glad you helped to put a smile on these kids faces- anyone with a heart would! Throughout my travels, this was the best thing i did to help a third world country and it was positive. I have great memories of teaching english to children who are so excited to learn and to see me. Somethings stay with you forever and the look on a kids face when they have a teacher today, a meal to eat, someone to giggle with, is more precious than anything i could buy or spend the day doing."
I have done my small part to make a difference...I was quite apprehensive about going to Cambodia at first. I am at an age where I can remember Vietnam, the Khmer rouge and pol pot. But, I was also at an age where I knew there was more important things I needed to do with my life. So I left my comfort zone and volunteered to help out in Cambodia.
I had not taught before nor even worked with kids but that didn’t matter. The kids were so desperate to learn English to help improve their own lives. At the day centre for the street kids, they were so happy for attention and just wanted to have the chance to play. Teaching the younger classes was so much fun. They really want to understand how words are pronounced and to have 30 kids shout back everything you say on command was always humorous to me.
As for the street kids, well, quite simply these kids are deprived of a childhood - and for 3 hours a day, the kids are allowed to play and act like kids again. They spend the rest of their lives working as they are the bread winner in their family. It is such a worthwhile project, that I am now saving to go back. I miss the kids and I feel so much more confident and worthy in this world now that I have done my small part to make a difference.
But she just waves goodbye and grins...On my last day, a little girl held my hand whilst I was kicking a football with the older children. Her small hand wrapped perfectly around my little finger. Every time I moved from one side or another she faithfully followed. Every once in a while I’d look down at the top of her little head, dirty from playing in the dust, and she’d look back up at me and smile.
When it is finally time for me to leave, I say good-bye to all the kids and pull my finger gently from my little friend’s palm. She followed me outside for a while, and I wonder if she’ll cry as I walk away. But she just waves goodbye and grins wide with a that smile... you know, the kind of smile that makes smiling back the only thing I want to do in the whole world.
Mat, Hong Kong
Cambodia remains my favourite country because of the people...A fantastic life changing experience. I particularly enjoyed playing with the kids at the day centre, they were so loving and happy, their smiling faces will stay with me always. Whilst teaching at the school, I was first struck by the respect the children showed me, standing as I walked into the class and saying “hello teacher” and all individually thanking me as they left.
These kids wouldn’t have the opportunity of an education if the school didn’t exist. I truly felt the importance of what I was doing whilst volunteer teaching. The Cambodian people were all very grateful for the help of the volunteers, they see so many tourist visit this extremely poor country and so few stop to help them find a way out their desperate circumstances.
I have travelled the world extensively and Cambodia remains my favourite country because of the people, they are so friendly and courteous, it is always a pleasure to be there.