Volunteer Abroad with Children in Cambodia
- Placement locations: Phnom Penh
- Types of care projects: Kindergartens, day care centres, and special needs care centres
- Age of children: 4 months to 18 years
- Number of people cared for: 10 to 50
- 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 with Projects Abroad on a Care project in Cambodia – one of Asia’s most underprivileged countries - will be a challenging but rewarding experience for you. Whether you are a student on a gap year, a professional on a career break, or simply looking for a meaningful vacation experience, you will have an important role to play in the lives of Cambodian children.
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 homes for children with physical disabilities or illnesses, you can help to improve their confidence and future prospects.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Cambodia Care Management Plan.
Volunteering at a Day Care Centre in Cambodia
In Cambodia, Care volunteers are based in Phnom Penh, where most 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 day care centres on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. These day care centres are safe places for the children of disadvantaged garment workers to receive education, medical care, and three nutritious meals a day. Each centre helps care for between 20-50 children at a time. You will be looking after children aged between 3 to 5 years old and helping with their early childhood development. Your daily tasks will range from reading to the children to working individually with local staff to build their English capacity.
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 also 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 day care 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.
All volunteers are supervised by local staff, and you might also have the opportunity to work directly in the communities to raise awareness of children’s rights. There is also 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.
Volunteering at a Kindergarten in Cambodia
The kindergartens that we work with in Phnom Penh are also run by Khemara. These kindergartens provide essential care, food, and education for disadvantaged children aged 3 to 6 years old. Volunteers have a crucial role at these placements and contribute to the children’s educational development, while also offering friendship and emotional support.
Volunteering with Ill and Special Needs Children and Adults in Cambodia
A small number of Care volunteers in Phnom Penh can work with children and adults in care centres for those with physical and intellectual disabilities and those affected by HIV. These homes provide shelter, medical treatment, and care. 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 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.
Recently, Projects Abroad made a long-term commitment to improve the standard of life for those at one of our partner special needs centers. We converted two disused rooms at the center into a Physical Therapy 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 physical therapy 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.
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 with Children in Cambodia with Projects Abroad
Volunteers usually start work around 8.30am and finish by about 3pm, but 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.
Projects Abroad Cambodia staff 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.
General Care Projects in Cambodia are available for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain 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 participating for a longer period.
If you are a high school student and first-time traveller you may want to consider our High School Special programs in Cambodia.
While you’re in Cambodia, you might also consider joining a 1 week Culture & Community Project. For more information, please visit our Khmer Project in Cambodia. Our Combinations Page explains how you can combine not only projects, but also destinations.