Click for larger image

community support in Siem Reap, Cambodia (CW)

Location: Cambodia
Project type: community support
Price from: £1,086 - details below

This community NGO works with families living in extreme economic poverty, providing holistic support from health care to income generation. A multitude of volunteer skills would be welcomed - to work with children and adults.

Skills required

We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs.

Many abilities and skills will be welcomed by this holistic community support project to help them deliver their wide range of programme activities - for example:
  • classroom assistants to work with the local teachers in basic literacy & numeracy
  • practical - DIY and construction, sustainable energies and horticulture, arts and crafts
  • musicians - particularly guitars and drums
  • artists
  • sports coaches
  • teachers
  • therapists - physio, speech and occupational
  • marketing and promotion
  • small-business skills
This project offers a responsible alternative to the volunteer who would like to work in childcare but is rightly concerned about the ethics of short term volunteer work abroad in an orphanage.

Main project details

This project's Community Centre meets the needs of families who are on or just above the poverty line in 3 farming and fishing villages between Siem Reap and Tonle Sap Lake. Life in these villages still revolves around subsistence farming and fishing.

Every week day, more than 330 children and young people, aged between 3 and 18, attend the English language programme and young people and adults are learning in the vocational training section. Training is given in weaving and wood-working skills, supported by adult literacy classes. An early years class is provided for younger siblings and the vocational training students' children. There is a junior football team who compete in local tournaments.  A disability programme provides an educational and therapies-based day centre for children from 2 to 18 years old, and a small group home provides respite and transitional care for 5 children.

Community support is provided in the form of rice aid, house repairs, installing water wells/pumps, water filters (for clean drinking water), toilets and hygiene packs. Children are encouraged to attend state school and the project assists with this by providing school uniforms, supplies and bicycles.  Micro-loans are provided for setting up a small business.  Adults and children are able to access free health care via the project's working relationships with the local children's hospital and an NGO working in the adult hospital.

The project is run as a locally registered, non religious, non political NGO, managed by a committee of local village representatives, staff representative and expat founders.  With the exception of the British Founder, Programme Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator and Disability Education Coordinator, the project and Community Centre employs only local staff.

This project has built immense respect within the local community. The challenges are huge - poverty, loss of natural habitat and traditional income, lack of resources, children's need to work, chronic health problems, a violent history. For many, this project and the Community Centre offer hope for the future, whether through a child's education or a micro loan to fund a livelihood initiative.
The team's goals for the future are to:

  • increase outreach work with families, disadvantaged young people and the elderly
  • produce saleable goods under fair trade conditions, providing incomes to the craft workers and funds for the development and running  of the centre
  • develop the health education programme
  • build a kitchen and provide a nutritious lunch to 100 needy children
  • expand  the art programme
  • research and develop effective sustainable energy systems
'I have so much praise for the teachers and staff.  I made such good friends with all the teachers and miss them so much.  They are great teachers and I loved being able to support them in any way.'  Volunteer, Ellie

Read more about how the volunteer programme works with Grace House here.


Cambodia's bloody history has had a massive effect on the country's infrastructure, as well as on its citizens in very specific and personal ways. During the Khmer Rouge rule, Cambodia experienced a traumatic and unforgettable genocide that changed the country forever. Approximately 1.7 million people were killed in a little less than 4 years.

Thirty years later, Cambodia still struggles to provide basic education and healthcare for its people. Literacy is a significant issue, with the majority of Cambodia's illiterate population living below the poverty line, in remote and rural areas. Without improving the access to and quality of affordable education and healthcare, there is very little hope of Cambodia pulling itself out of poverty. The lack of clean water and adequate sanitation is still a major health risk in the majority of rural villages.

More than one third of Cambodians live below the poverty line, struggling to survive on less than $1 a day. Economic poverty is especially pervasive in rural areas and among children, who constitute more than half of the country's population.

According to UNICEF, Cambodia has the highest infant and under-five mortality rates in the region, at 97 and 141 per 1,000 live births, respectively. Vaccine-preventable diseases, diarrhoea, and respiratory infections are among the leading causes of childhood death. Maternal mortality is also high.

Cambodia's main income generating industries are  textiles and tourism. The long-term development of the economy after decades of war remains a daunting challenge, as the population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure. More than 60% of the population still gets by on subsistence farming.

Volunteer opportunities in this community support programme can involve health care, child care, teaching skills, sport, craft - and other experience will also be put to good use. Take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page. Work with local people and play your part in responsible volunteer projects abroad.

Minimum duration

minimum 4 weeks recommended - depending on your skills, shorter trips could be arranged.

Living Conditions

You will stay at a locally owned, family run guest house. Breakfast is included and lunch and dinner are available from the onsite restaurant - however there are many local restaurants where you can eat for as little as $6.00. You will have your own private en suite room with TV, fan and wifi.
Alternative accomodation can be arranged at small hotels with air conditioning and a swimming pool from an additional $100 per week.


Project costs

From £1086 for 4 weeks for 4 weeks based on bed and breakfast, guesthouse accommodation 

Please note sterling prices are an estimate based on the dollar prices below at an  exchange rate of $1.30 to £1.00
Read about our costs and pricing policy here 

Watch an explanatory interview with programme director Sallie Grayson
Returning volunteers will receive a 25% reduction in project management and matching fees.
Additional weeks are costed at a sliding reducing rate. Please ask for details.

Please note these costs are correct to the best of our knowledge but can only be confirmed at time of booking due to changes in transport and taxes outside our control.
bed and breakfast guesthouse (half board can be arranged, or supper can be purchased for as little as $6.00 per day - and there are many wonderful local eateries)
airport transfers, full local orientation & child protection workshop, social event, local SIM card, project & placement liaison
(Accommodation in an hotel with pool and more extensive facilities can also be arranged for approximately £80 per week extra).
Your project contribution will fund the work of the programme.
How your money is spent based on 4 weeks
$224 (-direct costs in Cambodia (transfers, accommodation, orientation & child protection workshop
$400 - project management, liaison & supervision in Cambodia
$450 - project contribution in Cambodia
£260 - recruitment, matching & project development in UK
Not included: flights, insurance, visa costs, personal expenses such as phone calls, medical expenses, daily transport to the project - this can be arranged during the matching process.
If you or your friends and family wish to make further donations to this project CLICK HERE

Project gallery

Registered volunteers can learn about the local team for this project - LOG ON to learn more about this project and the local team we work with. Not registered yet? It's easy and free HERE!

Expert Tours People and Places Ltd trading as people and places - Company Number 03805796 - Registered in England at: 1 Naboth's Nursery, Canterbury Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8AX