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Cambodia forum

Volunteering in Cambodia?

Posted by Donman1990 on 9/4/2012 at 21:31

I'm doing some backpacking through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia next year, and I'm hoping to spend 2-4 weeks of my time in Cambodia volunteering. Ideally I'd like to do some english teaching of some form, I've done some research into different organisations, but it's just left me confused, there are so many. I have read a lot about organisations that are profit based, and none of the money goes into the community, ideally i'd like to avoid this kind of thing. I Just wanted to hear some other peoples experiences, if they've volunteered here, where and with whom, any suggestions really to help me make a decision!

#1 Donman1990 has been a member since 7/4/2012. Posts: 34

Posted by Dottravels on 10/4/2012 at 11:25

I volunteered two times (a week in 2009 and a month in 2010) with the Ponheary Ly Foundation based at Seven Candles Guesthouse. Ponheary and her family are fabulous people. Lori Carlson is an American woman who founded the Foundation. Check out their website. They are totally amazing people. Ponheary was a CNN hero a few years ago and continues her heart filled work with schools in villages. Please coordinate with them first before just showing up. I helped with cleaning wounds on school kids, helped with teaching English to some local teachers - I should have known more about ESL but instead mostly helped with pronunciation issues. Also, Wat Dam Nak has options for volunteers through the Hope and Life Foundation. I assisted in a English classes a few times - the teachers were monks who spoke limited English and I found it easy to help with pronunciation and understanding of context. I also helped in their sewing school for a few weeks - the students spoke almost no English and I taught using sewing terminology. It is all rewarding.

#2 Dottravels has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 3

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Posted by travelsalone on 15/4/2012 at 02:40

ConCERT "Connecting Communities, Environment & Responsible Tourism"
Their website has some good information about volunteering and they are an excellent resource.

#3 travelsalone has been a member since 19/3/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 41

Posted by girlseesworld on 16/4/2012 at 06:30

Not ALL for-profit orgs are failing to support communities properly with the funds they generate. Many charities are looking for enterprise opportunities to make themselves more financially solvent, donations being what they are. I think it's smart in terms of sustainability if it's carried out correctly. Some are, some aren't.

You need to spend the time to do your research before coming to Cambodia to volunteer: unsavory organizations can flourish here without proper oversight, but there are many doing good work.

Agree about conCERT as being a good starting place. There is also a Facebook Group called NGO's and Volunteers working in Siem Reap Cambodia; you might want to peruse some of those postings, although after reading some of the rants you might want to throw your hands up! :)

Good luck.


#4 girlseesworld has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by eastwest on 16/4/2012 at 08:26

Now that is a good point.

Too many people approach this whole thing as a matter of black and white. I'm not in the volunteer business but have a business here in Cambodia. A few things from my side to give some better insights for people who are considering this:

There are many and better posts on the NGOs than mine so have a good look at some other threads.

What is often overlooked is that normal businesses also take their social responsibilities. Doesn't mean that a potential volunteer should work in a normal business BUT don't look down (or even talk) upon a normal business. The normal job of an employee supports a whole family and can have a far greater impact than that 1 month of volunteering you do. Don't think you have the moral high ground because you teach english for 1-2 months.

It certainly is better if the NGo in question has a means to generate money besides donations. Volunteering would be much more effective if you could help set up such initiatives.

Many NGOs tout themselves as giving a chance to poor people. Since most Cambodians are poor (with the exception of the rich elite) any normal business who offers a job does help poor Cambodians.

Sorry about the slight rant but it can be annoying when I meet volunteer number 101 who's acting haughty. I just did...

#5 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778
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Posted by wildlifeallianc on 8/5/2012 at 14:10

I noticed you are traveling around Cambodia. Iwork at the non-profit Wildlife Alliance and wanted to let you know that we'vebuilt a free Wildlife Watch app that catalogues Southeast Asian animal andplant species. It showcases which endangered wildlife are most frequently traded as, how to pick themout by their unique features, and has a built-in system for reporting illegalhandling of animals directly to Wildlife Alliance. Just wanted to spread theword! You can download the iPhone app here:

#6 wildlifeallianc has been a member since 8/5/2012. Posts: 4

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