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Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in Cambodia

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Free or Cheap Volunteer Work in Cambodia

 

There are many opportunities for self financing volunteers to help in Cambodia. Many organisations take great pride that they are locally run and sustained with Khymer staff but welcome volunteers to either fill skill gaps or pass on experience to local employees.

Wanting to help street kids and orphans is a popular motivation for volunteering in Cambodia but it should be noted that despite significant reductions in the number of orphans, as the country recovers from its dark past, the number of orphanages is thought to have increased significantly in recent years. About three quarters of children in these orphanages have a parent and half of the orphanages in Cambodia operate illegally, often with the intention of exploiting the goodwill of both volunteers and tourists.

While reputable organisations will ask volunteers for a police check or CRB clearance from their home country and ask for passport and visa details, which will be copied and held on file as required by the Cambodian government, we do not recommend volunteering in an orphanage at all. In recent years the message is getting through. Orphanage tourism, including volunteering, has become a global issue and most voluntourism companies have committed themselves to a world without orphanages. ReThink Orphanages Network is a good place to start for finding out more on the issue.

 

Grassroots Volunteering in Cambodia

The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:

Conversations With Foreigners

www.volunteerincambodia.org

CWF's Volunteer in Cambodia programme arranges for volunteers to teach a conversational course to Cambodian students, aged 15+. Around 20 volunteer teachers per semester teach up to 5 hours per day, Monday to Friday. CWF has four three month long semesters each year and volunteers must be available for the full semester. Teaching experience and/or qualifications are a great help in the classroom, but are not required for native English speakers. Non native but fluent English speakers require teaching experience or certification. CWF also state that due to visa restrictions nationals of several countries, mostly African, are not eligible for their volunteer programme.

Where: Phnom Penh.
Accommodation & Costs: CWF do not charge a fee to volunteer. A shared ensuite room, including meals, in their volunteer house is available for a reasonable amount ($725 last information we had) for the whole semester (12 weeks), otherwise volunteers are welcome to make their own arrangements.

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Angkor Hospital for Children

www.angkorhospital.org

A charitable hospital, AHC provides outpatient, inpatient, intensive, surgical, and HIV care, as well as other services, free of charge. The hospital also supports greater Cambodian health care self sufficiency through its Medical Education Center. Though many of the 25 volunteers working at AHC each month have medical skills, non medical volunteers are also welcomed to assist with administrative undertakings, teaching English, and playing with the children. Applications accepted all year.

Where: Siem Reap.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers should be self funding.

Volunteering in Cambodia

 

CESHEO

www.ceshe.org

The Cambodian English School for Higher Education Organisation has provided free education to over 750 underprivileged students since its beginnings in the living room of the charity’s first teacher and founder. In addition students and homeless children are fed, housed and have access to health care. The school survives on volunteer run classes. There is also the option to help with farming and building work.

Where: Siem Reap.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers pay for their accommodation and three meals a day only, living on the school grounds in volunteer rooms or a stilt house. The cost is $80 for the five day school week. There are no other fees.

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Sugar Spa

www.sugarsiemreap.com

Tourists can be pampered with a purpose at Sugar Spa, a social venture providing fair wage employment to vulnerable women, supervised and trained by an experienced local and international team. They seek beauty and relaxation industry experts to volunteer for ideally two months to give skills training and mentorship in different areas. Ideal candidates should have two to five years of experience, with specialisations in massage, skincare, lashes and make up.

Where: Siem Reap.
Accommodation & Costs: In return for working four or five house a day, five days a week, beauty and spa trainers are provided with two meals a day and private guesthouse accommodation. During time off there is unlimited access to yoga classes, free spa treatments from the training staff, use of a bicycle, and saltwater swimming pool.

Volunteering in Cambodia

 

Dolphin School of English

www.dolphinschoolofenglish.com

Dolphin School of English ,a privately owned free school created to teach English to disadvantaged children and adults. They need volunteers, aged over 20, to teach English for a minimum of two weeks, though a longer commitment is preferred. Teaching experience is preferred but not essential but volunteers must have a high level of English. While all volunteers are required to teach English, basic computer skills are also taught and volunteers can also help in other ways, such as improving the school, by gardening, painting, decorating, and building, or helping in the office.

Where: Rural Kratie Province.
Accommodation & Costs: Shared bedroom in the volunteer house. Volunteers can pay $5 a day for three meals a day, or provide their own food and contribute $10 per week towards utility bills. Bicycles are provided for use by volunteers.

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The Ponheary Ly Foundation

www.theplf.org

From putting a band together to teaching chess, various volunteer placements are offered by this foundation that supports public government schools in villages across Cambodia’s Siem Reap and Preah Vihear provinces. People from all walks of life and from all over the world have taught, bandaged, cooked for, played with, and inspired the children reached by PLF. A two week minimum commitment is required.

Accommodation & Costs: There is no volunteer fee. Volunteers pay for their own living needs while in Siem Reap and must have travel insurance that includes medical evacuation while volunteering with PLF.

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Education Centre for Community (ECC)

www.ecccambodia.org

Every day ECC school provides free education to around 100 students from the local village of Po, depending on volunteers to provide daily classes to a wide range of ages and levels. Volunteers also support the village next to Po, by providing classes in their Pagoda. You don't necessarily need to come from a teaching background but, of course, professionals are always welcome.

Where: Near Siem Reap.
Accommodation & Costs: Three meals a day and accommodation in the home of the family who founded the school is provided. To cover the basic costs they ask for a minimal donation of $42 per week.

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Journeys Within Our Community

www.jwoc.info

Every volunteer brings a different set of skills that can be applied to JWOC's various programmes. Working to empower low income Cambodians to lead their communities by providing educational and personal development opportunities, JWOC look for international volunteers who can offer particular skills that will leave a lasting and sustainable impact on the people and communities they work with, whether it is providing hands on training to their staff or scholarship students, designing curricula or upgrading their IT systems.

Where: Siem Reap.
Accommodation & Costs: They do not provide accommodation but JWOC may be able to suggest possible places to stay. There is no fee but volunteers in the past were encouraged to contribute financially to the ongoing running of the projects by fundraising at home.

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New Futures Organisation

www.newfuturesorganisation.org

NFO is a small NGO operating a network of rural schools which aim to bring free education to children in remote villages who are unable to attend regular classes or can’t afford these classes. In addition, they run a drop in centre which provides guidance and educational support to young people from the Takeo area who previously lived at the New Futures Childrens Home. They utilise international volunteers with extensive backgrounds in teaching and teacher training to help educate around 600 pupils across their schools. They used to organise a volunteer programme when they ran a children's home, and intend to do so again, but for the moment volunteers go through their supporter, Right 2 Smile (see below).

Where: In and around Takeo.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers arrange their own accommodation and food. At the time of writing volunteers must use Right 2 Smile where there is a one time €75 registration fee.

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Friends of Koh Rong

www.friendsofkohrong.org

FoKR’s programmes are intended to support the youth of Koh Rong to adapt to their rapidly changing world, with English education at the core of the work they do. The ability to speak English gives FoKR’s beneficiaries the opportunity to earn a higher wage, or to better run their family business. Friends of Koh Rong receive many applications to volunteer on this appealing island and, in an effort to part of the negative consequences of voluntourism, accept only skilled volunteers with professional or practical experience who can commit to a minimum period of time. Successful volunteers at FoKR are enthusiastic individuals with skills, innovation and expertise who are willing to work directly with their staff to share, collaborate and empower local people.

Where: Koh Rong.
Accommodation & Costs: All volunteers are expected to cover their own costs for the duration of their time with Friends of Koh Rong. They can help with accommodation or you can chose to organise your own.

Volunteer Work in Cambodia

 

Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF)

www.cambodianchildrensfund.org

Centred around the former garbage dump at Steung Meanchey, CCF have since 2004 been working with some of the most impoverished communities in Cambodia. The CCF volunteer programme focuses on recruiting skilled volunteers with professional experience to assist with six core areas: education, leadership, community outreach, healthcare, childcare and vocational training. Volunteers must be able to commit to at least three months.

Where: Phnom Penh.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers are not required to pay CCF to volunteer but are required to provide their own accommodation and other expenses.

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Life and Hope Association

www.lifeandhopeangkor.org

Established and run by the monks of Wat Damnak in Siem Reap, LHA is a non profit education focused NGO committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing compassionate care and access to education to the poorest and most vulnerable in Cambodia – especially children and disadvantaged young women. They are able to consider a small number of volunteers who should have qualifications or significant experience in the roles assigned. They are able to consider a small number of volunteers who should have qualifications or significant experience in the roles assigned. Positions include social worker, general business all rounder, and people with fashion design experience to work at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap/LHA Sewing Training School. Most volunteer placements are part time, on a three month minimum/six month preferred basis.

Where: Siem Reap.
Accommodation & Costs: No fee, but volunteers will need to fund their own food and accommodation.

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KNGO Cambodia

www.kngocambodia.org

KNGO provides free supplementary education in Khmer literacy, mathematics, English literacy, computer programming, primary health education, community environmental awareness and vocational skills training to children and youth. They are constantly seeking volunteers to assist their Khmer teachers with the English literacy programme. Teaching experience is not required, however excellent English language skills and a commitment of one month volunteer time are, though longer is better.

Where: Battambang Province.
Accommodation & Costs: While donations are gratefully accepted KNGO do not ask for any placement fees to volunteer. Volunteers should be self funding.

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CHD Cambodia

www.chdcambodia.org

CHD welcomes both short and long term volunteers to teach English, support environmental education, or assist other projects that help educate the poor and disadvantaged children in a rural area of Cambodia.

Where: Po Village, Takeo Province.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers pay an application fee of $100, plus a donation of $200. CHD help arrange accommodation with a guest house in Takeo.

 

Other Opportunities to Volunteer in Cambodia

We used to list The Green Gecko Project on this page but after many years of hard work they’ve proudly moved to being staffed by paid Khmer employees and no longer rely on or have positions for foreign volunteers to fill valuable roles. However, knowing first hand how rewarding volunteering can be they have provided links to a number of reputable local organisations.

Green Gecko also suggest using ConCERT (Connecting Communities, Environment & Responsible Tourism). Several of the projects they promote can use some volunteer help from time to time with English teaching, childcare, social work, administrative work, IT skills, manual work, graphic design, photography, activity planning, fundraising and marketing. ConCERT offer free information and advice about volunteering and can arrange a volunteer placement for you that matches up the current needs of their projects with your skills and experience. This they do this for a fee, and it’s a pretty chunky one for short term volunteers - US$400 for one week – but does drop when staying longer; down to just under US$150 when staying eight weeks. See http://concertcambodia.org/what-we-do/volunteer-service/ for more info.

 

Help Exchange Networks in Cambodia

HelpStay

Workaway - https://www.workaway.info/hostlist-KH.html
Hovos - https://www.hovos.com/host/Asia/Cambodia/

 

Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in Cambodia

Stay for free in return for caring for local residents' homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). You can also get a free $25 Airbnb credit from us here.

 

Volunteer Experiences*

Volunteering in Svay Rieng - This is what Dave Dean of What’s Dave Doing did last year in Cambodia.
10 Years Ago Today – Cambodia - Tash reflects back to her time in Cambodia as a volunteer for Youth Ambassadors for Development.
Short-Term Volunteering in Cambodia: Some Questions - With so many places in Cambodia offering the orphanage volunteer work experience to travellers, Travelfish suggests that despite the best intentions your contribution might not benefit everyone.
A Typical Work Day - Tammy and Chris chart their day working for a NGO in Cambodia.
Memoirs of a Grizzled Expat 8: The Dilemma of Helping Vulnerable Street Kids - Andy Ahmed finds that other expats, irresponsible parents and the possibility of accusations of being a paedophile make it difficult trying to help street children in Cambodia.
Day 31-43 Tanop Community Education Centre - The Baigrie family describe the facilities and duties for volunteers at this Cambodian school.
The Ups and Downs of Work Field Trips to Rural Cambodia - Tammy goes on a field trip to interview and take photos of some of the beneficiaries of the NGO she volunteered for.

 

* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations

Images courtesy Direct Relief, Sugar Spa and Charles Pieters