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Cambodian Children's Painting Project (CCPP)

About

CCPP is a continuation of an activity initiated by Roger Dixon, a professional artist, who came to Cambodia to paint on Sihanoukville’s beaches in the early 90’s. The local children were intrigued by this man and his paints and wanted to try it for themselves. So Roger brought the necessary materials with him the following season and the children started to paint. The activity proved so popular and successful that Roger made it into a regular feature during his annual visits to Sihanoukville, financing it from his limited personal means. Backed up by an enthusiastic group of local volunteers the activity grew in size and scope, and diversified.

Headquarters

United States

Reviews

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Istvan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have volunteered several times in the past 2 years at CCPP and every time when I can return, it feels like coming back home.

I really like the general atmosphere, the enthusiasm and hard work both by the staff and the volunteers. The kids are full of joy, so eager to learn and try new things, games, activities, and they are always so grateful and excited when some old volunteer comes back again. The daily schedules are set up with a rotation of tasks and activities, so you may teach English in the morning, then help to serve lunch, and in the afternoon you may find yourself doing art lesson, cutting or repainting boards, or being on the truck on your way to a field trip with the kids – guaranteed that you get involved in everything and not get bored.

I have seen amazing improvements and new initatives in the past years – the project moved to a new campus, many new local employees have been hired, there is a nursery, regular English classes, computer rooms, morning yoga, dance lesson, talent shows – every volunteer can bring in something new and make a significant contribution to the improvement of the project and the kids’ life.

It is always very hard to leave this place at the end of my stay, but for me (and for many other volunteers) it is not a „good-bye”, but „see you later”.

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Charlotte
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a great time volunteering at CCPP, I had originally come to Sihanoukville as a tourist and seen the project and realised it was something I wanted to be a part of so came back after further travelling and spent a month there. The project is great as gives the kids a safe environment in which to earn money, when you see the extreme poverty there you realise how important this is. The kids get basic first aid from the volunteers, lunch everyday and have a fun environment in which they can paint, learn, play and gain important social skills in a safe environment.

I feel that the project could utilise the kid's art skills in other ways and make a more sellable product. Currently the paintings are done on boards and canvases which, as a traveller, are cumbersome and heavy to carry around, and hard to post home in Sihanoukville due to the some what lazy staff at the post office!

If the kids could paint on clothes, bags etc then I think more travellers would make purchases (my main purchases as a backpacker were clothes, as were many of my friends) and of course, would basically become advertising boards for the project as they travelled around the world! Giving great exposure to the project! The kids all seemed very content, and loving and I feel very happy and lucky to have been a part of the project and wish them the very best for the future.

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TD
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Normal days consisted of an 8am start, with 30mins of yoga with the children, then the painting started. When I was there, volunteers had to have had prepared a powerpoint presentation of an artist or 'concept' we wanted to have the children do. Then came the handing out of paper, pencils, eraser, etc. Once the children had drawn their 'mock' run we would give them boards with their ID numbers on so that they could paint on it and we would later put it on exhibition at the gallery. Once that was done, some of the volunteers would play activities with the children and others would be in the kitchen helping the lovely cook dish out the rice and food. Once lunch was served and the centre cleaned, volunteers would walk back to the gallery for our lunch break. Wanting to make the most of the amazing weather I was lucky enough to have had, I spent all my lunch breaks at the beach. After two hours, it was back to work for the afternoon shift until 5.
Working at CCPP is pretty basic, its the wonderful Khmer staff, children and the volunteers which make it an amazing experience.

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JesseUSA
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Having worked at a number of different NGOs in Asia, I am excited to wholeheartedly endorse CCPP. The direct impact you have on children's lives, the friendly and helpful staff, and their efforts to ensure these kids are allowed to be children. The program goes so much further than just the painting or the computer or english classes, it is reaching out to kids homes and families. Everything that goes in goes back out. Its run great, was a wonderful experience, certainly for me, and hopefully for the kids as well, and I would certainly recommend it for prospective volunteers. The highlight of my 7 months in Asia!

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surfinglou
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered at CCPP for two months and then travelled around SE Asia for three months. My time at CCPP was definitely the best part of my experience in Asia. The staff are kind, supportive, funny and very hardworking. I was worried about being overwhelmed by all the kids and the kind of poverty and hardship they have to endure, and it was a bit of a shock initially, but once you start spending time with the kids, you realise the project is a real lifeline to so many young people and their families. You really make a difference to these kids and the feeling of being part of this special place makes it the most positive experience you could have volunteering, in my opinion.
Sihanoukville is changing fast. It is a beautiful place with amazing beaches, great people and a lot of problems. CCPP is so important, as the support it gives vulnerable young people can really transform their future.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with CCPP in Cambodia?

Lara: I decided to volunteer in Cambodia because my friend suggested it! It was a really easy decision as the country has so much history and is so beautiful. It was an amazing cause too which made it a lot easier to save for!

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Lara: The day is divided into shifts with the first starting at 8am and the last finishing at 7pm. They're things like teaching classes (English and Art), working in the gallery selling the paintings and also general hard work! One shift is "workshop" this is the hardest one! A bit of heavy lifting or cutting new boards to paint on etc. You really feel like you get to know the children, even through the language barrier. On Saturdays, the volunteers and the kids all pile into the van and have a few hours at the beach. The kids love it and just want to play with you all the time. You really feel like you're making a child happy. Dinner with all the volunteers and teachers, a big night out (if you didn't have to get up at 7am!) or just relaxing on the beach.

There's a local cinema called TOP CAT and it's brilliant for something different. They have any film you want and if you have enough people you can rent out the big room, full of squishy chairs and air conditioning! The smaller rooms are the same but not quite as big a screen, of course.

Local Cambodian kids drawing

What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?

Lara: All the volunteers live together in a house and it's so much fun. There's a shared kitchen (most of didn't use because it's cheaper to eat out!), a tv room and the hotel next door shares the front door patio with us so that's where you'd find most of us between shifts. We'd all meet there and go down to the beach for dinner together every night.

It's not even just the volunteers that you really bond with. After 3 days of being there, everyone was invited to the wedding of one of the teachers. It was such an amazing experience to be included in a local wedding and to see different cultures at their happiest time. Truly brilliant evening. It really is such a family, eating, living, and working together each and every day seems like there could be tensions, but each person that came to CCPP was amazing and it was so easy for everyone to get a long. So many of us have stayed in contact long after the trip, and I have seen so many of the girls that were there from all over the world. It may seem cliche but you miss the children, the friends and the country as soon as you leave. A little piece of me stayed in Cambodia.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Lara: It has made me so much more appreciative of all that I have. The warm water, the education, the healthcare that we have available to us that we don't even notice most days. That's why CCPP is such a good cause. They educate the children and as oral hygiene isn't much of a priority with the poorer families, CCPP take the children to the dentists and provide them with toothbrushes after meal times. They keep them off the beaches and keep them safe. I now regularly donate and recently, many of the volunteers raised money to send one of the teachers, Sengkea, to Australia for education and experience. It was something she would never have managed on her own and it was a great thing to see all of her photos. I have also been looking into finding some time hopefully do some volunteering in the UK while I'm still here! I plan to travel again in another year or so and CCPP and Sihanoukville will be top of my list!

Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Local kids in Cambodia

What has been your involvement with this volunteer project?

Sandi: 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?

Sandi: 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?

Sandi: 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?

Sandi: 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