I am 18 and I have decided to take a year off before going to college. I am looking for a place to volunteer, preferably in Cambodia but I am open to researching anything (reliable) in SEA. I am hoping to stay for 5 months, working full time in exchange for a safe place to live. I have done a lot of work with kids so that's what I'm leaning towards continuing although I am open to suggestions. I would love advice from past/ current volunteers! thanks
#1 joody96 has been a member since 26/6/2013. Posts: 4
Siem Reap has a huge number of NGOs offering volunteer placements doing English teaching etc. What kind of volunteer work are you interested in doing? A friend of mine runs a project in his village (he is Khmer) about 1 hour outside Siem Reap, where they are always in need of people wanting to help out. Alternatively you can find other projects in the city itself if you would prefer to be more centrally located. From experience, it is tiring travelling that distance every day for extended periods (sitting on the back of a motorbike), but it is also very rewarding to experience rural village life and to help out somewhere that doesn't get anywhere near as many volunteers as a city school or project.
Maybe you could split your time between a couple of different projects? 5 months is a relatively long time - most volunteers spend less time than that. If you would like any more info on my friend's project I can easily put you in touch with him. Otherwise you can find a lot of info on other projects in Siem Reap online, or you can just as easily show up there and ask around.
Hope that helps!
I recommend you read Lina Goldberg's Moving to Cambodia before accepting any volunteer offer. She has a little info on volunteering in Cambodia, a lot of it disheartening. She herself was a missionary for 3 years in Cambodia.
You have to think hard before volunteering in Cambodia. You have the potential to do a lot of harm than good. You're very young and probably have little experience or training. You say you want to work with children, but how would you feel if a Khmer with little to no training who didn't speak your language came to your country to volunteer and spend a long amount of time with your children? Ask yourself "Of what can I truly contribute to the Khmer's, other than being an exploited volunteer?" You're also potentially taking jobs from the locals who are the ones who truly need it. Think about it from a Khmer businessman's perspective: "Why should I pay a local when a foreigner is willing to do it for free?" You are essentially only prolonging Cambodia's reliance on foreign aid.
Volunteering has become a booming industry in SEA and there are plenty of organizations who are anxiously waiting to take advantage of your free labor and money. How would you like to come to my house for 5 months and ''volunteer"? I will pay you absolutely nothing, but you can sleep on my couch and I'll cook you one free meal a day. It'll be the best cultural experience to tell all your college friends, and you'll feel good inside knowing you helped a poor disadvantaged soul! Sounds fun right?
Not that I'm trying to dissuade you. I'm sure you have good intentions. But often people with good intentions are the ones who are taken advantage of. Offer me a snack, and I'll take the whole kitchen.
#4 ThaiStick has been a member since 17/4/2013. Posts: 20
A lot of what you say is true, but one thing that she could do is teach English - especially to students who already have some background. When a kid we had three young students from Germany come stay a year in my town and they could not speak English and I found it a great opportunity to begin to learn German.
@madmac what is the name of the orphanage? does it have a website?
#6 joody96 has been a member since 26/6/2013. Posts: 4
Joody - It's not an orphanage. It's a public school. But they have a small budget and have found it difficult to hire foreigners to teach English. Their last Thai teacher was very good and she brought me in to help once a week. But I live an hour away and the cost benefit from both sides wasn't that great. It's outside of Luang Nok Tha, Yasothon province.