We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs.
Many abilities and skills will be welcomed by this holistic community support project to help them deliver their wide range of programme activities - for example:
• classroom assistants to work with the local teachers in basic literacy & numeracy
• practical - DIY and construction, sustainable energies and horticulture, arts and crafts
• musicians - particularly guitars and drums
• sports coaches
• therapists – physio, speech and occupational
• marketing and promotion
• small-business skills
This project offers a responsible alternative to the volunteer who would like to work in childcare but is rightly concerned about the ethics of short term volunteer work abroad in an orphanage.
This project's Community Centre meets the needs of families who are on or just above the poverty line in 3 farming and fishing villages between Siem Reap and Tonle Sap Lake. Life in these villages still revolves around subsistence farming and fishing.
Every week day, more than 330 children and young people, aged between 3 and 18, attend the English language programme and young people and adults are learning in the vocational training section. Training is given in weaving and wood-working skills, supported by adult literacy classes. An early years class is provided for younger siblings and the vocational training students’ children. There is a junior football team who compete in local tournaments. A disability programme provides an educational and therapies-based day centre for children from 2 to 18 years old, and a small group home provides respite and transitional care for 5 children.
Community support is provided in the form of rice aid, house repairs, installing water wells/pumps, water filters (for clean drinking water), toilets and hygiene packs. Children are encouraged to attend state school and the project assists with this by providing school uniforms, supplies and bicycles. Micro-loans are provided for setting up a small business. Adults and children are able to access free health care via the project's working relationships with the local children's hospital and an NGO working in the adult hospital.
The project is run as a locally registered, non religious, non political NGO, managed by a committee of local village representatives, staff representative and expat founders. With the exception of the British Founder, Programme Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator and Disability Education Coordinator, the project and Community Centre employs only local staff.
This project has built immense respect within the local community. The challenges are huge - poverty, loss of natural habitat and traditional income, lack of resources, children's need to work, chronic health problems, a violent history. For many, this project and the Community Centre offer hope for the future, whether through a child's education or a micro loan to fund a livelihood initiative.
The team's goals for the future are to:
• increase outreach work with families, disadvantaged young people and the elderly
• produce saleable goods under fair trade conditions, providing incomes to the craft workers and funds for the development and running of the centre
• develop the health education programme
• build a kitchen and provide a nutritious lunch to 100 needy children
• expand the art programme
• research and develop effective sustainable energy systems
Read more about how the volunteer programme works with Grace House here.
Cambodia's bloody history has had a massive effect on the country’s infrastructure, as well as on its citizens in very specific and personal ways. During the Khmer Rouge rule, Cambodia experienced a traumatic and unforgettable genocide that changed the country forever. Approximately 1.7 million people were killed in a little less than 4 years.
Thirty years later, Cambodia still struggles to provide basic education and healthcare for its people. Literacy is a significant issue, with the majority of Cambodia’s illiterate population living below the poverty line, in remote and rural areas. Without improving the access to and quality of affordable education and healthcare, there is very little hope of Cambodia pulling itself out of poverty. The lack of clean water and adequate sanitation is still a major health risk in the majority of rural villages.
More than one third of Cambodians live below the poverty line, struggling to survive on less than $1 a day. Economic poverty is especially pervasive in rural areas and among children, who constitute more than half of the country’s population.
According to UNICEF, Cambodia has the highest infant and under-five mortality rates in the region, at 97 and 141 per 1,000 live births, respectively. Vaccine-preventable diseases, diarrhoea, and respiratory infections are among the leading causes of childhood death. Maternal mortality is also high.
Cambodia's main income generating industries are textiles and tourism. The long-term development of the economy after decades of war remains a daunting challenge, as the population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure. More than 60% of the population still gets by on subsistence farming.