Responsible tourism: Volunteer with children, Cambodia
Poverty is never very far away in Cambodia. Cambodia has become famous for its amazing historic sites such as Angkor Wat as well as it’s untouched rural landscape, but unfortunately it is still a very poor country and the majority of the population has very little opportunity to make a better life for themselves.
Tourism is the fastest growing industry in Cambodia and their second greatest source of income. This means that those with the best English stand the best chance of earning a living. By volunteering with these children you can help to pass on skills which can lead to jobs.
Social responsibility - before volunteers depart we provide them with a detailed Volunteering Guide on the area they will be visiting. We try to educate and encourage our volunteers to understand and respect the local cultures and customs and get involved with local communities. This means that volunteers are culturally sensitive to the environment that they are working in.
Economic responsibility – for over 10 years we have been providing volunteers to help at charitable projects around the world. A UK charity has now been launched to build on this success by providing financial assistance to overseas causes as well. The organisations we work with are often struggling to fund the work they are doing so every penny raised makes a real difference.
A significant proportion of the fee that volunteers pay is spent in Cambodia. We always work with locally owned Cambodian businesses where possible and while volunteers are in-country, we encourage them to buy locally and support local businesses.
Environmental responsibility – one of the main negative impacts of our volunteers travelling, is the carbon dioxide created from flights. We work with a 'carbon neutral' charity to help ensure that an amount of carbon is sequestered through tree planting or the promotion of low energy technologies. While our volunteers and customers are overseas, we identify and encourage simple steps to minimise their impact on the local environment. Volunteers stay in locally run accommodation and are encouraged to be mindful of their waste.
The Children’s Outreach Centre and the educational support at the Primary School is run by a community based organisation and registered charity in Cambodia.
The Outreach Centre was established in 2007 to offer a drop in centre for children and families affected by HIV, here they receive a nutritious meal, tutoring with homework and an opportunity to play with others who are experiencing the same thing.
The children’s health is monitored and advice is given on hygiene practices. A local qualified counsellor visits on a regular basis to offer friendly discussion and advice to the children and their extended families. The local director of social services is also on hand to offer support as and when needed. All of the children enrolled at the Outreach Centre are HIV+ and receiving free anti-retroviral treatment (ART) either in Kampot or Takeo Province.
The Primary School the project works with is a state run school located in a beautiful rural area known locally as Fish Isle. The school has little available resources or funding but receives approximately 200 pupils on a daily basis. The children are eager to learn and the project aims to support them with English teaching and extracurricular activities as well as providing additional resources where possible.
The school was unable to employ a qualified English teacher and as such the project have funded for a local free-lance teacher to visit the school in the afternoons.
The project responds to requests from the local Social Services and Ministry of Education and liaises with them on a regular basis to ensure they are serving the local community in the best way possible. As such other opportunities can arise over time, in the past the project has supported other community initiatives and schools in Kampot Province.
The Garden Restaurant is located next door to the Children’s Outreach Centre and was purchased on the riverfront as an income generation scheme for the project. Run by the Children’s Outreach Centre staff, the restaurant generates valuable funding for the project as well as proving an employment opportunity in the local area. It also provides the children from the Outreach Centre with a safe place to come if they are unhappy or would like to talk to the team. Food for volunteers is provided from this restaurant and all ingredients are locally sourced and volunteers regularly visit the local market to buy breakfast and snacks, supporting the local economy in Kampot.
Our Responsible Travel Policy All our volunteers are educated on travelling ethically and responsibly to ensure that they travel with respect to the local culture. Our guidelines for ethical, responsible and environmentally friendly travel are provided to each volunteer in their comprehensive project Volunteer Guide, issued on application.