Cambodia's long years of bloody internal strife left many children orphaned. Times have changed, and many former orphanages have become children's homes, taking in indigent youth whose families cannot support them. Families also hope that these homes will provide a better education for the children. Although the term orphanage is frequently used, few children are actually orphans. Helping the kids both in and out of the classroom. Your duties will be determined by need. Think of it as a tutor/English teacher/activities director position! You may also be asked to help with preparation of meals and cleaning up.
Daycare for the Children of Rag Pickers
Joy Daycare may be the most unusual children's home ELI works with: it was created just for preschool children of rag pickers -- the poorest of the poor in Phnom Penh. Each morning, a van drives around the city, picking up participating children age 2-5. Many live in hovels, slums, even on the streets. Once they're brought to this bright and cheerful facility, the kids are given showers and a clean uniform while their own clothes are washed and dried. Their day includes warm, nutritious meals, age-appropriate preschool activities, and another warm shower before they're taken home. Volunteers help the children wash themselves, get dressed, serve meals, participate in their "classes" and play with them: personal one-on-one time and lots of English. Joy Daycare provides these otherwise dramatically underprivileged children the same caring and stimulating preschool environment enjoyed by their middle-class peers around the world. Without Joy, they would have likely been on the streets with their parents.
Children with Disabilities
Most developing economies struggle with the special care necessary for children with disabilities. Cambodia is no different. Neither the government nor the families have the means to deal with the issue. Many children are sent to underfunded and understaffed care facilities. Volunteers are welcome. You will help care for and entertain the children as well as pitching in with general tasks around the facility. The work is physically and emotionally difficult, but the rewards are great.
Orphanage for traditional dance
Located on a quiet side street in central Phnom Penh, this small, modest but intriguing orphanage offers care and, in addition, training in classical and folk Khmer (Cambodian) dance to about 23 children age 8-15. On weekends, the children perform these beautiful dances at the city's night market, the money they earn earmarked for food, clothing and other necessities that this dramatically underfunded orphanage desperately needs. The orphanage's mission is two-fold: to provide a home for its orphaned or abandoned youngsters while also continuing the rich tradition of Khmer classical dance that was nearly wiped out by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970's civil war. The children attend a local public school that doesn't have English instruction. Their only way to learn English -- a key stepping stone in today's Cambodia -- is through volunteers. By teaching basic English, you will offer these warm, lovely (and talented!) children a priceless, sought-after skill. In the evenings and on weekends, you can explore this exciting city that's quickly become a hip mecca for in-the-know travelers from around the world. You'll have the experience of a lifetime - and help children that, right now, have very little besides the love of their dance teacher/den mother -- and the goodwill of international volunteers. Take a look at our Director's blog if you'd like the learn about the amazing women that runs this school.
Internships are available at several hospitals in Phnom Penh. These are shadowing opportunities for pre-med students and medical students. Any other duties will be assigned based on background. Keep in mind that there will be a language barrier, since most staff and patients do not speak English. Still, this is a great opportunity to learn about medicine in a developing economy.
35% of the Cambodian population lives under the poverty line – in order to strengthen the private sector and local economy, NGOs set up microfinance and microloan projects to support communities and families, enabling them to set up their own businesses. We cooperate with several organizations in Phnom Penh as well as in the provinces that deal with microfinance and microloans. Since most organizations work in a variety of locations, the volunteer might have the chance to visit communities in different areas of Cambodia. See our discussion of microloans here.
Are you studying business? Do you have a background in accounting or marketing? Your skills would be welcomed by an NGO in Phnom Penh that helps the city's poorest residents launch and run small, life-sustaining businesses through micro finance and micro lending programs. As an ELI volunteer, you can set up accounting and financial systems, help monitor and evaluate individual businesses and assist in the preparation of financial reports. You will be part of an undertaking that helps to transform lives in some of the neediest areas of Phnom Penh. If you're a student, this is an ideal opportunity to put your classroom skills to good use in a real-world setting. If you're a professional - what better way to share your experience than to lend a helping hand to a struggling community working hard to lift itself out of poverty.
Microfinance and Community Development
Help disadvantaged women of Phnom Penh by volunteering with a local NGO that strives to empower those living in 12 of the poorest communities in the city. This grassroots organization focuses on very poor women, victims of abuse and domestic violence and those living with HIV or AIDS. It offers training and education; disaster aid and micro finance programs. As an ELI volunteer, you will help to interview members of the participating communities; help monitor and evaluate microfinance projects and help prepare training workshops. This is an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in microfinance, community building, the organization of outreach programs, public health and women's empowerment.
Read an interview with a former intern
Grassroots and Local NGO Support
The Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge Regime and the killing fields and several years of civil war were devastating to this country, its infrastructure and its economy. Since 1998, the country has been struggling to rebuild. Cambodia still needs to cope with many problems: a weak democracy and corruption as well as poverty are big problems. Initially, there was a huge influx of foreign aid, but that has been diminishing in recent years. Nevertheless, Cambodia’s economy is growing rapidly and plenty of local and international NGOs are working here. We would like to give volunteers the opportunity to learn about those issues first hand – in a local NGO.
Typically, volunteers assist the local staff in writing reports and success stories, visiting the beneficiaries, and using their English skills to support the staff in writing proposals and editing reports. A minimum commitment of 6 weeks is required in order to ensure that the volunteer's participation benefits the receiving organization. This is a great way for volunteers and interns who are interested in going into the field to learn about the profession.