I graduated high school in June and plan on taking a gap year before going to college. I visited Cambodia for two weeks and worked at an orphanage. I travelled with an absurdly expensive program filled with privileged kids who were just looking for community service hours and something flashy for their resume. While over their I fell in love with the culture and vowed to go back. I have made a connection with an orphanage in Phnom Penh and they have offered me a place to work for five months. They were quick to state that they would not "be able" to offer any sort of room/ board. I worry that this translates to me being of little value to them, is this a valid fear? I understand that my skill set is minimal but having nothing being provided is literally going to make me indebted to my parents. I also was wondering if volunteering at one place for all five months is the way to go or if I should spread my time out across a few? Finally, since there isn't room and board included, any ideas on a cheap but safe place to live? I was looking at real estate and anything in English was geared towards rich westerners, I just need one bedroom.
#1 joody96 has been a member since 26/6/2013. Posts: 4
You didn't explain what you wanted to do at the orphanage? Volunteering doing what?
You didn't mention your sex, because that would impact on your security given your age.
Hopefully someone here lives in PP and can help you out concerning finding a place to live that's not too pricey.
Keep in mind compared to most people in the world, you are a "priveledged kid". When I was 18 there was no way I had the resources to entertain what you are intending to do.
While there I will be doing whatever they need, cooking, cleaning, teaching, playing games etc.
I am a female, I'm not so sure that's relevant though
I am well aware that I am very fortunate to have this opportunity and I cannot wait to spend time doing what I love in a place that I love; I would like to suggest you not jump to conclusions about my privilege.
#3 joody96 has been a member since 26/6/2013. Posts: 4
Where in PP is the orphanage located? I have a Cambodian friend there who might be able to help with a room.
As for sex - women are not as physically powerful as men and also are a more common target for sexual assault. This creates more vulnerability to opportunistic crime. Hence it's relevence.
As for Priveledge - having already lived in eight countries in the world, and seen a lot of teenagers who were lucky if they could even attend school and maybe had two or three changes of clothes, I would say any "gap year" kid who has the resources to do what you want to do is priveledged. So many just don't. Having said that, obviously mommy and daddy aren't loaded, or you wouldn't be concerned about finances. I also laud your intention.
Keep in mind that some of these kids will become very attached to you and when you leave it will be hard on them. Emotionally you are making a more long term committment, because if you just cut them off when you leave that is very damaging.
I can only give an idea on getting accommodation. If you want a reasonably priced apartment try the area just north of Wat Phnom. There are lots of posters advertising apartments for rent for around $120 to $150 p.m. Plus utilities. So the way to go about it is to take a Khmer or Khmer speaker around the street and they can read the posts. They usually have a phone number or sometimes the neighbours can help you get in touch wirh the landlord. If you spend a morning doing this you'll probably get a decent place. Most landlords are happy to let to Barang. A lot of places are semi-furnished but beds and bedding are not particularly expensive. You can buy most household goods around Orrusay market. There is a line of shops on Monivong Avenue around the corner from the market selling reasonably priced furniture ( don't forget to bargain.) When you've got what you want they'll call a tuk-tuk for you and deliver it there and then. A cooker you can pick up for around $20 at Central market along with all your cutlery and plates.
It's normal to pay one month extra as a deposit and sign a contract but really getting an apartment in Phnom Penh couldn't be simpler.
If you are staying for 5 months it might be worth purchasing a second hand motorbike to get around. You can easily sell that on when you leave. I found having a motorbike paid for itself when you count in all the motodop fares you save.
Yes, it's all expense but you can sell everything on when you leave.
I am sure you will enjoy the experience.