Volunteering in Cambodia

I had never planned to volunteer in Cambodia, it all happened by accident really. I met a girl on the slow boat to Laos that raved on about Cambodia and how amazing it was. She said that she’d spent a month volunteering in an orphanage in a rural town and she longed to go back there.

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So I decided to head to Cambodia, first to Phnom Penh and then I caught a bus to Takeo from the bus station. I drifteed off to sleep as the bumpy bus made its way slowly to a town I’d never heard about a few weeks prior. As the bus pulled into the centre of Takeo, I realised at once I was finally off the beaten path.

Since my first visit to New Futures Organization, I’ve been back three more times. In a way it really feels like home. Each time I’ve visited I’ve ended up at a slightly different place, doing slightly different things. The first time I happened to be there with some English teachers I’d met in Vietnam. We taught English classes together, with bright eye’d little children peering through the weaved windows. The second time I was there I helped build a school that was being set up in a rural village. The third time I spent some times with the kids in the orphanage, reading, making bracelets and playing football. The most recent time I took over my own class at a village school and moved through a textbook.

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New Futures Organization is a great place to volunteer because you have the opportunity to take up whatever challenge best meets your skills. Because so few tourists come to Takeo, you are welcomed with open arms each and every time. During my 2.5 years of long term travel I’ve wanted to venture to other countries and places to volunteer, but a part of me always wants to return to Takeo and those familiar smiles I’ve grown to love.

One of the things I love about volunteering at New Futures Organization is that there are no hefty fees; it is not voluntourism. It is genuine volunteer work, where you help out where needed. Because of this, at times it can be a little disorganized, but I like this style of volunteering because you can really do as little or as much as you can, and it will all be appreciated.

Aside from the relaxed atmosphere of NFO, you are not expected to fork out for any large donations. During your stay in Takeo you can elect to eat meals at the NFO volunteer accommodation, which you pay a fairly standard rate for. Some of this money is drip fed back into the orphanage, so by just being there you’re helping out. The same goes for the accommodation, meaning that even your daily expenses are being put to good use. You’re encourage, if you want, to buy some rice for the kids in the orphanage or to help out if you can, but there’s absolutely no pressure. At the end of the day the focus is on you having a good experience and enriching the lives of the local kids – this is the reason why so many volunteers return to NFO.

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Not a day goes by that I don’t miss these kids; their bright wide smiles, their eagerness to learn and their kindness.

I know I’ll be back to Cambodia someday soon and I urge anyone who has the opportunity to visit to make there way to this little rural town to give them some love.

Have you ever volunteered in Cambodia? I’d love to hear your experience!

Izy Berry is a kiwi girl from The Wrong Way Home travel blog. During her 2.5 years on the road she’s been stabbed, visited over 30 countries, taught in the Czech Republic and Cambodia and fell in love with the Plitvice Lakes. To hear more about her adventures follow her on Twitter or Facebook.



2 responses to “Volunteering in Cambodia”

  1. Hi,

         Great posts about volunteering from Izy. I would like to do some volunteering in Asia when I go there later in the year and it always help to see good info like this when I am researching.. 

     

    • clbberry@gmail.com says:

      Hey Adam, you’ll have to check back here by the time you get back to Asia. Hopefully this will be a full fledge resource by then (and then you can post about it here 😉 )