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Volunteer Abroad with Children in Cambodia

Overview
  • Placement locations: Phnom Penh
  • Types of care projects: Kindergartens, day care centres, and care homes
  • Age of children: 4 months to 18 years
  • Number of people cared for: 10 to 40
  • Role: Volunteers work on achieving the goals set out in the Care Management Plan, including running educational games and group activities and providing emotional support.
  • Requirements: None
  • Accommodation: Shared volunteer apartments
  • Length of placement: From 2 weeks
  • Start dates: Flexible

Volunteering on a Projects Abroad Care project in Cambodia – one of Asia’s poorest countries - can be challenging but incredibly rewarding. Whether you are on a gap year, vacation from your studies, or coming to development work as an older volunteer on a career break, you will make a valuable contribution to those you assist during your time abroad. Volunteers are based in Phnom Penh.

Although the civil war in Cambodia has long since finished, its legacy continues to haunt this beautiful country. Children remain particularly vulnerable, but by working and interacting with children in day care centres, kindergartens, and care centres for children with physical disabilities or illnesses, you can help to improve their confidence and future prospects.

This year, Projects Abroad have made a long-term commitment to improve the standard of life for those at the Home of Hope centre. We converted two disused rooms at the centre into a Physiotherapy Room and a Sensory Room for interns and volunteers to work in. A group from Pembroke School in Australia kick started the efforts and prepared, installed, and decorated the physiotherapy equipment. Our High School Special volunteers continued their work and finished the Sensory Room. They also provided much needed shade over the playground area. We are incredibly grateful to both of these groups and we must now make sure their efforts have a long-term impact.

Volunteering at Kindergartens and Day Care Centres in Cambodia

Students who chose to volunteer abroad with Projects Abroad in Cambodia read with the children at a day care center

In Phnom Penh most volunteers work with a Non-Governmental Organization called Khemara. Khemara is the oldest locally registered NGO in Cambodia. Since 1991 they have played a significant role in working for the advancement of women and children in Cambodia by working directly with local communities. Projects Abroad and Khemara run nine kindergartens and day care centres on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. 

Disadvantaged mothers drop their children off at the centres and kindergartens so they can go out to work for the day. As a volunteer you will be looking after the children, aged between 3 to 6 years old, and help with their early childhood development. Your daily tasks may range from reading to the children to working individually with local staff to build their English capacity. All volunteers are supervised by local staff and may also work directly in the communities raising awareness of children’s rights.

Volunteer ProfileVolunteer Lucy Matthews's story about her Care project in Bolivia
Lucy Matthews
I have always been a person who said ‘I would never leave home’. However, Cambodia is the most incredible place I have ever travelled to and I am deeply grateful for the experience I had with Projects Abroad. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my three months away. People often ask me what my favorite part of Cambodia was and my reply is always ‘the places I visited, the people I met and mainly the children I cared for.’ I cannot wait to return in the near future! Read more...

You will make sure that the children are taught about hygiene, are fed, and provided with monthly health check-ups. As far as education is concerned, you will provide assistance to the staff at the centres and kindergartens, and run activities incorporating learning about literacy, numeracy, and social skills. You will also teach activities like songs, games, drawing, and painting. There is an opportunity to participate in one of four mini-campaigns that we run throughout the year. These campaigns focus on education and literacy, sports and the outdoors, the environment, and health and hygiene.

Volunteers usually start work around 8:30am and finish by about 3pm. This can vary and your exact hours will depend on your project and individual schedule. Some volunteers who live close to their placement return home for lunch. Otherwise it will be provided at the placement. Most volunteers work from Monday to Friday and have the weekends free to travel.

You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Cambodia Care Management Plan.

Volunteering with Ill and Special Needs Children in Cambodia

A smaller number of volunteers in Phnom Penh work with children and adults in care homes run by the charity of Mother Teresa. These homes provide shelter, medical treatment, and care for abandoned children and sick and disabled adults and children. These placements can be challenging but are also among the most rewarding. Many of the children need all the help and support they can get. No experience working with disabled children is necessary, but these placements are ideal for people with some experience of working with disabled children or in a medical capacity.

Volunteers are needed to help at these centres on a basic level. For example, you may be washing and feeding the children or teaching them personal hygiene. On a social level, friendship and support are some of the key things you can offer on this placement. Whether you are helping children complete their homework, playing sports, or teaching them a new game, the time and attention you give to them is invaluable. Any skills or talents you have are welcomed.

Volunteer ProfileVolunteer Kat Buczynski's story about her Care project in Bolivia
Kat Buczynski
My main piece of advice for anyone who is thinking of volunteering at a special needs placement is not to be afraid of the children. I know that might sound silly, but even though some of their disabilities are quite severe, they do not want to be treated as if they are breakable. Of course, you must be mindful of their disability, but keep in mind that they are just like any other child in many ways and just want to smile, listen to your voice and play! Read more...

Volunteering Abroad with Children with Projects Abroad

Volunteer with Children in a Care Center in Cambodia, Asia

Projects Abroad are happy to provide extra help to volunteers on the Care Projects. This may include buying some arts and craft materials, or arranging a day where all the volunteers help to renovate a play area at one of the kindergartens or centres. Input from volunteers is welcomed, and we are open to any ideas you may have to help make the lives of these children brighter.

You can join a Care project in Cambodia for two or three weeks if you don't have time to join us for four weeks or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for short term volunteering for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain a valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone volunteering for a longer period.

gap year volunteer with her care center after face painting on the care project in Cambodia

If you are a high school student and first-time traveller you may want to consider our High School Special programs in Cambodia.

Volunteers seeking a different cultural experience have the option of participating on a more unique project for one week at the end of their project. For more information, please visit the Khmer Project in Cambodia page. Volunteers also have the opportunity to spend one week on a Conservation & Environment project at the end of their main placement. Please visit the Conservation & Environment project in Cambodia page to learn more. Our Combinations Page explains how you can combine not only projects, but also destinations.

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