I'm a Canadian who came here four years ago as a paid volunteer. Fell in love with the project and stayed longer than I thought I would. Originally I was helping in the art area, being an artist and a teacher. Things changed over the years and a need arose for a director and now I run the project. That's the short story.
Approximately how many volunteers do you work with each year?
We generally have between 8-10 volunteers per month. They stay for one to six months at a time. So I would say around 70 -80 volunteers a year.
How do you ensure your program is sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?
We are working on becoming sustainable and have a number of inititatives that finance our project. Volunteers pay $400 a month to stay with us, we run an art gallery to sell the children's art (occasionally we have exhibitions abroad), and some of our children are sponsored through the website. Half the funds raised through the sale of paintings is given back to the child who made the artwork, but most of the money we raise is given to the project to meet all of the needs of the children that we serve. We pay for all the educational fees, uniforms, books, and lunch everyday. Volunteers find that their involvment with our project leaves an indelible mark in their lives.
Will there ever be a time when the Cambodian people don’t need international volunteers? How do we get there?
I hope there will be a time when NGO's are no longer necessary in Cambodia , but I don't see it in the foreseeable future. Education is lacking in Cambodia. Knowledge will replace corruption and Cambodians can then have control of their futures.
Famous last words?
Be the change you want to see in the world - Gandhi