Cambodia

Original Volunteers

I joined Original Volunteers Cambodia in August 2013 after graduated from University of Liverpool. I heard about this program from a friend in UK while I was studying abroad. The project that I joined in Cambodia is Hope Agency and it is coordinated by a local guy name Jason Han. I enjoyed my stay there teaching English in the school, doing voluntary paintings on the wall, visiting to nearby orphanage and food bank delivery to the needy families in the village. It was a once in a life time experience I would say. The most satisfying moment was I designed a two wall paintings on occupation and traveled to a local market which is 30 minutes away from the school just to buy paintbrushes, paints, and stationery as well as organizing a small class party during my last day at Hope Agency. I remembered paying GBP 150 as a contribution to Original Volunteers (though I am certain that such contribution goes into the OV Company and not helping the kids directly) and USD 4 per day to Jason Han upon arrival. That USD 4 includes accommodation, food that we can order anytime from the kitchen, clean water for drinking and toilet rolls. I miss my friends that I've made in the local village, the fun times teaching and playing with the kids and little bit of rice planting in the field every morning.

These memories made me to work on a fundraising event so that I can afford to visit back Hope Agency 2 years later. I was so grateful that the managing partner in the law firm that I worked at Malaysia decided to sponsor all 4 staffs (including myself) as a Corporate Social Responsibility Project on behalf of the firm. Thus on 19 October 2015, me and my other 3 colleague managed to outsource stationery, workbooks, 100 toothbrushes, toys, gifts, etc to bring along to Hope Agency. I believe that charity should be voluntary and can be contributed in any form either through time, or money. It should not be "imposed" on the volunteers on the minimum amount of donation in cash that we have to give nor the compulsory helping out with the plantations, construction sites or feeding the animals as according to the work instructed by the Project Director. In 2015, I felt like it's a military program where I must wake up at 8.00 AM to do the extra activity besides than teaching English as the core volunteering work in Hope Agency. In 2013, there's no such mandate on volunteers and I did the classroom painting out from goodwill. I was very disappointed when the Project Director insisted us to pay $250/ person upon arrival as contribution and said that the cash contribution is compulsory whereas all the stationery items donated are "very cheap stuff and can easily obtain from the local market". It was very ungrateful of him to say that as I was a returning volunteer. Besides the students do not brush their teeth everyday after class anymore (they used to have it in 2013). Furthermore, the contribution that we paid do not cover all 3 proper meals that I used to have back in 2013. It has changed into a pay as you order from the kitchen for meals besides dinner. Honestly, the dinner prepared wasn't a proper meal and I can get better food with cheaper price from the local market. I felt that something wasn't right whereby the cost of living has increased that much on volunteers. The Project Director even contacted some of the past volunteers whether they have plans of returning to Hope Agency and keep asking for cash contribution :( I felt pity for the kids as they have not benefit much from the contribution given by the volunteers, instead it was used to build more construction buildings, plantations around and purchase of goat,ducks, chickens in the school which will be sold off in the future. I did not enjoy my stay as much as I do in 2013 and will not recommend this place to new volunteers based on my real experience recently. Many volunteers had shorten their stay in Hope Agency after knowing how expensive is the cost upon arrival.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Dec 7, 2015
Overall:
3
Support:
3
Value:
3

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I had one of the best experiences of my life volunteering with IVHQ in Cambodia! The information and help pre-departure from the IVHQ team was extremely helpful and made me feel very comfortable with the decision I had made to volunteer abroad! The team on the ground in Cambodia were so lovely and welcoming! The accommodation was also so nice, as were the meals. I felt like it was exceptional value for money and a very authentic experience! I loved the volunteering experience and was also made to feel very welcome by the Cambodian teachers I worked with. The children were amazing students and made me wish I could stay longer! I made life long friends with fellow IVHQ volunteers and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend volunteering with IVHQ to anyone!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Dec 6, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Thanks for sharing a little from your time volunteering with IVHQ in Cambodia. It's great to hear that you felt well prepared by IVHQ before your departure and supported by our local team when in Cambodia. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I had an amazing time in Cambodia, it was my first trip overseas and I was very nervous. Luckily for me the co ordinators were helpful and friendly and I felt completely supported before and during my month volunteering.
What an amazing, eye opening and humbling experience.
Thank you Cambodia and thank you Volunteer IHQ for an incredible, life changing month.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Dec 6, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Hi Chloe, It's great to hear from you! We are glad to hear that you had such a positive first trip overseas and volunteer experience. Thanks for being an IVHQer and we hope to see you again on another IVHQ program.

Projects Abroad

My experience in Phnom Penh, Cambodia was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would absolutely go back in a heart beat. Traveling through Projects Abroad worked out very well for me. My travel itinerary was organized, all I had to do was show up at the airport and be able to navigate my way through. My arrival in Cambodia was just as organized. After obtaining my visa and important customs documents, I was met by a staff member and driver who helped me with my luggage. They took me to my accommodation where I immediately felt safe. I arrived in Phnom Penh late in the evening. The staff member responsible for getting me from the airport to my apartment provided me with a detailed itinerary for the next day's induction day. Induction day was completely focused on showing me the city, my project (the school) and familiarizing me with the Projects Abroad office and personnel in Phnom Penh. I was absolutely pleased with the travel side of Projects Abroad.

My accommodation was not the greatest but I feel that was at little fault of Projects Abroad. Volunteers traveling to Cambodia must first understand the meaning of a third world country. Do not go to this country expecting life to be comfortable. The country is generally hot, the apartments and schools do not have air conditioning. The water is not safe for foreigners to drink UNLESS provided by Projects Abroad (which they did an outstanding job of providing clean water for volunteers). Do not be expecting warm showers at the apartment. These are not every day amenities for the people of Cambodia. If you are coming to their country, do not expect to bring yours with you. Leave it at home, that's why you are traveling.

Projects Abroad does everything possible on their end to ensure that their volunteers feel safe, worthy and taken care of not only in the accommodation, but as well as in their projects and in their general health and safety while traveling with Projects Abroad. I can say only great things about this company.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Nov 15, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

For the past two years I have been researching for the perfect program and organization to volunteer abroad. I finally made the decision to travel to Cambodia as it is one of the poorest countries in Asia in need of English speaking volunteers. This trip turned out to be everything I expected it to be. The Projects Abroad staff was helpful and available every step of the way, the volunteer apartments were comfortable and very clean, the food was delicious, and every individual I met while volunteering was grateful for the work I and other volunteers were doing. In just two weeks it felt as if I completed a month’s worth of things on the Khmer Project. I not only was able to help a family in the rice fields and teach English in a school; but, I also learned about Cambodian culture through making a traditional Khmer puppet, cooking traditional Cambodian food, learning traditional Khmer dancing, learning the basics of the Khmer language, visiting the national museum, visiting the ancient temples in Siem Reap, visiting a floating village, meditating in a Buddhist temple in Phnom Penh, and visiting the areas of Cambodia that were used during the devastating Khmer Rouge. All of which was covered in my expenses. The experience was life changing in the way I was able to make friends with volunteers from all over the world, learn about Cambodia first-hand from my Cambodian coordinator who was with me every day, and most importantly how I was immediately exposed to the unfortunate circumstances of this very poor country by teaching young children and simply travelling around the country.
Volunteering is the best way to travel and the only way to truly understand and empathize with the inequalities of this world. As a student studying to become a social worker, this experience gives me an advantage on my resume, as well as the confidence to broaden my career goals to a global level. I left Cambodia an even greater advocate for change and I am already planning my next volunteer trip with Projects Abroad as my trip would not have been what it was without them!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Aug 30, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

The summer of 2014 I participated in the High School Special program in Cambodia for Care & Community. I am from a small town in California and I have always loved to travel to new places. During my two weeks I worked with nine other volunteers at a day care center for children 3-6 years old. As soon as I even thought about doing something like this Projects Abroad was beyond helpful. After talking back and forth with some staff and attending an online information session my parents happily put me on a plane to Cambodia. I never felt nervous or unsafe during my trip. As soon as I stepped off the plane I was met with a staff member and a car to transport me to my placement house. It was all very easy which I appreciated. I stayed in an apartment with the other volunteers and the project supervisors. My supervisor was outstanding. She was very friendly and had answers to any and all of my questions. We were constructing a garden and a playground at the daycare, which was something I had never done before. Any of my concerns washed away as soon as we got there. We arrived to two friendly staff members who had all the tools necessary and the guidance we needed. Throughout my time there Projects Abroad organized different activities where we experienced Cambodia. We traveled to Angkor Wat to visit the ancient temples, we toured S-21 and the Killing Fields to learn about the country’s history, and we went out to eat at local restaurants. I made lifelong friends with the other volunteers during my trip and I am planning on doing another volunteer abroad experience with this company. The staff at Projects Abroad are all very impressive and on top of every detail. I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to volunteer abroad. Volunteering abroad, helping underprivileged children, meeting so many different people, and getting to see the world are just a few of the wonderful opportunities Projects Abroad provides you with. I will always remember my time in Cambodia!!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Aug 17, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

I began corresponding with Projects Abroad in the beginning of April for a possible medical journey for July or August. It would take literally weeks for them to get back to me for single questions. Often times their responses would be filled with copy and pasted excerpts rather than actual answers.

I finally decided to sign up two entire months later after gathering enough information. I found out that only AFTER you pay the $295 dollars will your application be sent to the program that you want to work with, so there is a chance for you to get denied from there. My application came back denied with no reason as to why. It would take an entire week of trying to figure out when before learning that they denied me having claimed that I had not finished medical school. The incompetence of the staff is clear as had they bothered to open my resume they would have seen that I completed medical school last September.

There were so many other moments of ineptitude; finally, I had to pull out of the program due to my Mom entering into the hospital. Instead of being understanding, they would not refund my money due to a 3 month cancellation policy. I understand things take time to change around after a reservation has been made, but it had just been a few days, and they were under the impression that I had been denied. They are disorganized, uncompassionate, and really rather rude through their correspondences. I would search elsewhere for a more put together and organized organization.

Program:
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Jun 4, 2015
Overall:
3
Support:
2
Value:
2

Projects Abroad

Getting to the island was so scary. I was put on a bus with no other English speakers and told my trip would be 3 hours long, 8 hours later with no food we got to a beach where I was told to get out and ushered onto a small wooden boat that looked like it would sink. Luckily I survived the trip to the island.
The accommodation and bathrooms were so unhygienic I got sick almost immediately. There's no septic system so you have to put all of your used toilet paper in a opened bin beside the toilet which is in the same room as the shower facilities. There's nowhere to wash your hands and to flush the toilet your pour water down the bowl.
I also have a pre-existing medical condition that I was told I would be able to manage over there until I arrived and found the medical facilities on the island were very basic and almost non existent. I was apparently not the first person worried about this as diving is a dangerous activity and can require medical attention. I was also worried when I found out not one staff member knew first aid.
The staff are very friendly at first then become immediately standoffish on the second day. The only time they lighten up is when they are drinking which is most nights.
I'm a young person and enjoy a drink or few but not every night. I also felt very out of place because some of the people in charge were younger than I was and were almost only interested in sleeping with the volunteers. Even though most of the volunteers were already sleeping together or had done in the past.
There are posters all over the accommodation that state no drugs on the program. This couldn't be further from the truth. Almost every volunteer was smoking marijuana and taking pills every day and would come back to the house out of their brains. Not to mention certain staff felt it okay to supply the volunteers with drugs and were happy to do it with them.
There was also very little conservation work happening at all. Volunteers could work on their "own projects" which mostly consisted of us watching movies or reading each other's books. Only a few volunteers had actually collected any relevant data while most of them had not even researched anything, we just tagged along on the dives.
I also didn't even see a seahorse in my time on the island. I was told they'd seen 4 seahorses but I find that hard to believe.
The food was very mediocre to poor quality. If you don't like rice, don't go. That's what I survived on and occasionally ate fish. The chicken was disgusting and pork often still had skin and hair attached as well as parts of bones. There were so many times when no one even knew what the meat was. There are so restaurants on the island that do amazing food though so I recommend those.
There is no interaction with the community other than the children saying hello every time you walk by. I was advertised that we would be teaching and interacting with children as well as teaching them about conservation only to find this was never a part of the program.
When I left not one person from projects abroad contacted me or even saw me to the airport. I was simply put in a taxi and dropped off.
Two weeks after I returned home the project manager emailed me and asked how I was as they hadn't heard from me, they weren't even aware that I had returned home.
For the amount of money you pay it's definitely not worth it. Apparently a girl left before I got there, she changed her flights home. I wish I was fortunate enough to do that because I would have gotten out of there in the first week.

On the plus side:
I made some amazing friends who were equally as disgusted as I was at the organisation and overall let down of the program.
I also enjoyed the experience of seeing another country and culture.

I would not however recommend this to anyone unless they are into 'cheap drugs and alcohol' and watching movies every day and going for the occasional dive.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Mar 18, 2015
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
1

Comments

This review has astonished our community in Cambodia and overseas. We have received nothing but positive feedback through all of our official channels, and we have been working to identify the authenticity of this review. Our project is run by qualified professionals whose primary focus is marine conservation and dive training. Health and safety are a top priority and illegal activity of any kind is absolutely not tolerated by our team or by the community on the island. We are happy to provide evidence of our qualifications, impact and health and safety procedures to anyone concerned. We would like to connect with the author of this review, as these allegations are being taken very seriously, and do not represent the feedback from any volunteer on the project to date. Jessica Warner Operations Manager (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam) & Head of Programme Development __________________________________ Projects Abroad

Frontier

I've been on Frontier's teaching project in Cambodia for the last 4 weeks and it's been absolutely incredible.

We are based in Siem Reap, and we teach at a local school for children who would not normally be able to receive English classes.

Siem Reap is an amazing town with the perfect mix of old and modern, chilled and hectic, with amazing culture, friendly people and fantastic bars and restaurants. There's never been a dull moment- there's always more food to try (the bug cafe, with tarantulas, scorpions and crickets was a particular highlight of mine), more bars to have an ice cold beer (Cambodia beer is my favourite), more markets to get lost in, more temples, ruins and museums to explore.

The teaching itself is incredibly rewarding. The children are so eager to learn and are always full of energy and enthusiasm. You quickly get to learn all of the personalities of the children and some of them can be very witty, even when they aren't speaking their native tongue. The younger grades love to play games and write on the board, which makes teaching them very entertaining!

At the weekends we have been able to explore the surrounding area. Angkor Wat was an obvious highlight- nothing can prepare you for the scale and sheer impressiveness of the place. We also visited floating villages, a butterfly sanctuary and the War Museum (our guide was a child soldier in the Khmer Rouge and his account of the civil war was harrowing and tragic).

All in all, the project has been a fantastic mix of rewarding work at the school, and an amazing opportunity to explore and get under the skin of this awesome town!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Jan 29, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

I attended the Projects Abroad Marine Conservation Cambodia project this summer and had a really bad experience. The central aim of this project is to teach the volunteers how to scuba dive and then let them carry out marine surveys. Unfortunately, diving course took place very infrequently, and I had to wait over a week for my first dive (other volunteers I met had to wait even longer). Since diving courses are very badly organised and take place infrequently, most volunteers do not reach sufficient proficiency to actually take part in marine surveys (out of the 20 - 30 volunteers I met only 2 had actually participated in a survey).

The project description on the Projects Abroad website is misleading in several other ways. For example, while the description states that the volunteers can take part in "training programs on sustainable fishing" with the local villagers, I was informed on the project that this is false advertisement, and that there in fact is almost no interaction between the volunteers and the locals.

Accommodation during the project is very basic and incredibly unhygienic. Mold is covering most of the walls and rats are living in the bungalows where the volunteers are sleeping. The food is of really low quality, which is a mystery to me because generally even cheap food in Cambodia is very good. The staff is highly unapproachable and generally gives you the impression that they do not want to be bothered by any problems the volunteers might have. While I was there, two of the volunteers ended up in the hospital because the staff did not take action when they first were injured/became ill. Some of the lack of organisation/responsibility of the staff may be explained by the fact that binge drinking is one of the main ways to pass time on the island (for both staff and some of the volunteers). I spent most of my first night on the project watching one of the girls in my bungalow throw up repeatedly after having had way too much to drink (occasionally an - also drunk - member of staff walked by but did not intervene).

I had originally paid for four weeks on the project, but left after a week and a half, after an upsetting incident with the diving instructor. I have written at length to Projects Abroad about this incident, the shortcomings of the project, the fact that the project description on the website is misleading, and that some of the staff are treating the volunteers is completely inappropriate. However, most of my emails were ignored, and even when I did receive a reply Projects Abroad refused to refund any of the money I had paid.

In conclusion, this Projects Abroad project is badly organised, falsely advertised on the Projects Abroad website, completely overpriced, health and safety is non-existent, and the way Projects Abroad has handled my complaints it appalling. Do yourself a favour and save yourself this negative experience. If you want to go volunteering, pick another organisation!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Dec 30, 2014
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
2

Comments

The Marine Conservation Project in Cambodia has relocated to Koh Kong province and is now independently run by our team of trained local and expat staff. This project is running incredibly well and regular updates can be found on our website. Health and Safety is always a priority and all of our dives meet or exceed PADI standards. Our project site is an alcohol-free zone and we work in close collaboration with local authorities, including schools and temples on the new island in Koh Kong. We are happy to provide more information on the new project to anyone interested. Jessica Warner Operations Manager (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam) & Head of Programme Development __________________________________ Projects Abroad

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