Cambodia

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

Involvement Volunteers International

Ok I have some time , so I volunteered in Cambodia through IVI www.volunteering.org.au in Nov 2014 and really liked it! I got to see a few different cities in my time there, which is a bit of a challenge with only being able to travel on weekends, but I made it work. It's drenched in the history of the Khmer rouge and it feels like such a young country because of that.

Oddar meanchey I think especially is still somewhat reeling from its occupation as the last stronghold with samraong being at its centre.

The Volunteer project is really great, everything runs quite smoothly. The volunteer housing is nice, able to house quite a number of volunteers comfortably. Typically it's 4 to a room (2 bunk beds), but I was only very with one other boy (2 for the last week) so I had a lot of space and there was never any issues having to wait for 3 other people to use the bathroom.

I was surprised to find that I was staying much longer than anyone else with 6 weeks, typically it seems most people stay 2-4 weeks at most, with the rare person staying longer. It's certainly seems more of a tourism placement than India appears to be. The volunteers were mostly younger too, 20-25 years old.

The culture week was ok, good introduction to getting used to the town and staying at the home stay. The school was the best part though, it's so nice there. It's a pleasant 15min ride from the homestay on the bikes, which we did 4 times a day, nothing too strenuous. The kids are great, there's 5 levels of which I had the top level, being the only native English speaker there so it made the most sense. The oldest they get its about 12-13 with the occasional older kid.

There isn't really any structure to what you teach, you're essentially allowed to do whatever you want. Which is daunting at first but after a few days it feels natural, and you get to know the kids quickly. Then it's all just kinda routine, get up at 7, eat, ride to school for 8, teach until 11, ride home, eat at 12, rest for 2 hours, ride back to school at 2, teach until 5, ride home, eat dinner at 6, talk, sleep, repeat. It's nice.

The Cambodian teachers are very helpful when you need to explain something but in general I had no problems with the kids. We played a lot of football which was good haha.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Dec 30, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Frontier

I can't speak highly enough of this project. The staff are excellent, the facilities are excellent, the food is excellent, and the volunteer work that you do is broad, exciting, and helpful for the local Khmer community that lives on the island. From looking after some of the new born puppies and kittens to surveying reef sites around the paradise island in the beautiful cambodian waters there are so many different things to do to aid and research the wildlife along with educate the community.
I have been travelling and volunteering for nearly 4 months now and my time with frontier in cambodia was definitely one of the best. Even though i was there in the middle of the wet season i was still able to learn all the fish, substrate, and invertebrates along with help survey every transect in House Reef. We also had the chance to have a few beach bonfires, swim on a clear night in bioluminescent waters, aid with the construction of the school playground, conduct daily bech/reef cleans and even explore different parts of the island on our days off.

overall 10/10, cant complain.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Sep 28, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Visions Service Adventures

VISIONS is a fun, simple way to enjoy your summer while impacting the world around you. This summer I attended the Cambodian program and am so glad I did. While it took me months to decide which program I would choose, my heart called for Cambodia. It was truly amazing to be incorporated into the Cambodian lifestyle and culture. The Cambodian are happy, generous, and greedy for knowledge! While teaching summer school classes at a school in our hometown Battambang, I discovered first hand just how smart and willing to learn the children are. Working projects may be scary at first but do not worry if you have never cemented anything in your life. After VISIONS you will be able to build yourself a house! Trust me! Participants, staff, and community members are always willing to teach you how to perform different jobs at the work site. Soon enough working becomes fun and you forget about the sweat and sun. VISIONS allowed me to meet people from all across the world which is something I will always cherish. This summer I meant something. I became someone. I challenge you to become someone too!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Aug 16, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

So I think it’s fair to say that the people in Cambodia are equally as special as the place, and when I say people I am referring to the frontier team and staff; right from the offset I’ve been well equipped with information and help when needed before entering the field which to be honest I didn’t think could be topped. However the entire time I’ve spent here I’ve felt as if I am part of a family, from the first day where I was meat on the pier by my frontier PI greeted with warm welcomes and smiles I felt right at home.
The frontier team here have taught me so much about marine conservation in Cambodia, they’ve both supported me and supplied me with the information i need to help make a change out here on the island of koh rong samloem. so thanks to Jenn and Gen for making my time here so special, and I can only hope that those who volunteer out here after me enjoy it just as much as i have.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Apr 26, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Hi! My name is Julia an I'm interested in doin a project with frontier while I'm 17. I was wondering if you would be willing to talk to me about your experience? If so you can just email me : juliarose385@gmail.com

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