Why did you decide to volunteer with Love Volunteers in Cambodia?
Camilla: We decided to go away with LV because they offered volunteering at a very reasonable price and it allowed us to live with a local family.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Camilla: We would get up at 7am to have breakfast that our family had made for us, then travel the 45 minute tuk-tuk ride across and out of Phnom Penh. We arrived at around 8.30 when we were always greeted by Sambath and Chivvon (two of the youngest boys who we were looking after), after saying good morning to everyone our first English lesson started at 9am when half of the orphanage would be present while the other half were at school. We covered basic topics such as introductions, foods, transport, geography, grammar (think very basic GCSE language topics). The lesson usually ended with everyone’s favourite game - hang man, using the new words which they had learnt in the lesson. After that we would play with the younger children when the older ones went and worked on homework or went and saw friends.
From 11-2 was lunch, we were told we were allowed to go home as is custom in Cambodia but we always ended up staying and eating with the kids and usually got talked into an intense 2 hour badminton game by one of the boys! After lunch the other half of the orphanage who had been at school in the morning returned and we gave the same English lesson that we had given in the morning to the new class.
After this lesson usually the younger children we had been playing with in the morning (aged from around 6 months to 3 years) were napping so we’d play (again, usually badminton or football) with the slightly older children (5-11 years). We would then wait for the children to return from school in the afternoon so we could say good bye and then we’d get our tuk-tuk back to one of the markets to do touristy stuff and then head home for dinner at 7pm.
What made this volunteer experience unique and special?
Camilla: I really loved staying with the host family, they were great, the parents spoke very little English but they had 3 children, one of whom was 18 the same age as us so it was great to find out from her what an 18 year olds life is like here compared to ours. Obviously the Orphanage and kids were amazing, and I genuinely think not a day goes by when I don’t wonder what they’re up to, they were all so sweet. The placement of the orphanage itself was also pretty unique, although it was in Phnom Penh, it was on the river bank an surrounded by fields so it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere!
How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?
Camilla: It had definitely made me realise I want to work with children and possibly NGOs. Also that the English way of life is just not for me, it’s so fast paced, money is everything to people and no one smiles! Cambodians pride themselves on being smilers!
Check out the video Camilla made about Love Volunteerin Cambodia below!