I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives. – Tracy Chapman
Volunteering in Cambodia – The Place I Keep Revisiting
Early into my long term travels I found myself volunteering in a small village in Cambodia, named Takeo.
It was one of the best months of my life, I have met so many wonderful volunteers and I really relished the time spent teaching the kids and I smiled so much my face hurt.
Since my first visit, I have gone back another four times and this little village with bright red dirt roads remains one of my favourite places in the world.
As this little town is not on the tourism radar, the locals that saw us biking around were regularly fascinated by us and really embraced us warmly. It was a completely different experience compared to traveling around Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. They didn’t want anything from you, instead were just grateful you were here.
My days were quite relaxed as the classes I taught were only in the afternoon, so the mornings would be spent biking down to the local market to gather food for the day, sipping on delicious iced coffees that cost a whopping 25 cents and socialising with the other volunteers I’d met during my time there.
We would endure a challenging bike ride to a small village where many of the homes did not have electricity. As we’d bike along dirt roads, small children (often without clothing) would race up to us and give us high fives as we biked past. Grown adults would often come to the edge of the road, and, with a child-like enthusiasm, chant “Hello” as we biked past. To say we were warmly welcomed each day would be a complete understatement.
The particular school I taught at was nicknamed “Little Po” and had over 200 students to the one teacher. The kids squeezed together in a simple, open-air classroom that had a simple roof to protect the students from the rainy season. The teacher, Team, soon become one of my friends and his enthusiasm for teaching was both impressive and unbelievable. Here were children with a lot less opportunities than I had growing up, excited and grateful for the opportunity to learn.
After some introductions and songs, I’d take my group of students and a whiteboard and we’d set up our classroom inside a Pagoda. The children really loved quizzes and occasionally I’d bring in my laptop so they could watch a movie together. Baring in mind that the majority of homes in this village did not have electricity, this was a huge novelty for them.
Whenever I would return from the afternoon break, I’d be greeted with little doting notes from my students. Each time I had to leave Takeo and move on, my eyes would well up and the students would make me promise to return. Each time I leave, I know in my heart I’ll return.
I believe giving education is the best gift you can give at all. It provides opportunities, empowers people and allows them to take charge of their own destiny.
Volunteering with New Futures Organisation
One thing I loved about volunteering with New Futures Organisation was the fact that they weren’t looking to make money from me. So many volunteering experiences cost as much as traveling the country in luxury would.
I am happy to donate money to help cover the operating costs, especially while I’m there, but I’m not interested in filling the pockets of greedy businesses – volunteering should be offering your time for free, not paying to donate your time. Anywhere that really needs the help will certainly take it.
I’ve heard horror stories of people paying thousands of month to go volunteer in a third world country only to find out the organisation was not really genuine and to walk away feeling like they’d been scammed.
Volunteering overseas has really changed my life for the better. I’d love to answer any questions you might have about volunteering in Cambodia, about volunteering with New Futures Organisation or volunteering overseas in general.
Izy Berry is a digital nomad who writes over at The Wrong Way Home. She was stabbed on the road, loves taking photos of the places she visits and is in the process of becoming location independent.
I’m more than happy to help my fellow bloggers and all possible charity and volunteering foundations to fight for their cause. Elephant protection. Education matters and human trafficking organizations will always have my vote. Even if you are aiming for something different do not hesitate to contact me in order to be featured on Good Karma Affair.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored!