We work closely with the local people who manage these projects, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs:
• Small business skills
• Web design
• IT skills
• Marketing and sales
• Accountancy, book-keeping
• Business planning
• Photographers, artists and designers
• Product design
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in south-east Asia, with more than one third of the people living below the poverty line. However Siem Reap, with its close proximity to the World Heritage temples at Angkor Wat, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and consequently there are many more business opportunities in this town than in other parts of Cambodia. In many cases businesses are totally dependent on tourism for survival and sometimes rely heavily on foreign management and foreign donations. However the project we support is run by local people and has a key aim of becoming self-sustainable.
Khmer for Khmer Organisation (KKO) is an NGO which was founded in 2009 and is located in Siem Reap. Their goal is to help Cambodia return to those more prosperous times of quality education, jobs with liveable wages and communities where people participate in decision-making and development. With most jobs in Siem Reap going to those with good language skills, KKO is giving poor children and young adults from the countryside a good English education as well as vocational training for free I order to set them up for life in the modern world.
Programmes currently run by KKO are:
- An English language programme for young adults, teaching 270 students daily, in the realisation that the need to speak and understand fluent English is a prerequisite for those hoping to find work in the tourist industry.
- A computer training programme for 12 students, providing them with a level of training which exceeds the basic entry level of computer skills required in most jobs.
- Motorbike mechanic training, which provides four young people a year with the necessary skills to maintain and repair motorbikes, the most commonly used means of transport in Cambodia.
- Sewing training, which provides intensive training for 12 students a year, enabling them to find work in the textile industry or to start up their own businesses.
To help them towards their goal of self-sustainability, KKO runs two enterprises under the label ‘off track’. ‘Off track accessories’ is a newly-opened shop in the heart of Siem Reap’s tourist zone producing and selling unique handmade products. It is expected that this shop will generate profits to support KKO’s budget as well as generate employment for some graduates of the sewing programme. ‘Off track tours’ offers unique bicycle, trekking and motorbike tours to the temples and the countryside around Siem Reap. These tours have become so successful that they already generate enough money to cover about 35% of KKO’s running costs.
Our partners in Cambodia also work with a number of other projects in and around Siem Reap focused on developing skills and creating opportunities for local people to take control of their own lives and earning potential. Like KKO, they would welcome volunteer support in areas such as fund raising, proposal writing, sales and marketing. As a volunteer in this programme, you will be matched to the organisation where your particular skills and experience can best be used.
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 the four 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 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.