There are a number of health care initiatives working with people in and around Siem Reap, and you will be placed on a project according to your particular skills and experience.
Many health care programmes are based around community centres in rural villages on the outskirts of Siem Reap, and our partners work with two of these centres. Both employ mainly local staff who are keen to help their own communities to break the cycle of poverty and lack of education that runs across much of rural Cambodia. The centres are focused on meeting the needs of families who live on or just above the poverty line, many of them subsistence farmers. In many of the villages there is no piped water supply, with all the water coming from community wells. Water has to be boiled or run through filters before it is safe to drink but 30% of families don't have water filters. Many villages have no sewage system - those families lucky enough to have a toilet have a simple collecting tank next to their toilet that has to be emptied out. In these circumstances basic health care practices that we would take for granted, such as washing hands after using the toilet, are often lacking. In addition, many families have never been taught good hygiene practices. Most children in Cambodia now attend school but this was not the case for their parents' generation, largely due to Cambodia's troubled political history. The community centres where volunteers could work provide holistic support to these communities, including education programmes and vocational training for children and adults. A key part of this is health, first aid and nutrition training for children who attend classes at the centres and for the families in the local communities. They would welcome support in developing health and nutrition programmes, preparing resources and planning and helping to deliver workshops.
'I absolutely loved my experience at Treak Community Centre. I was welcomed by all and given all the support and information I needed to feel right at home straight away.' Volunteer, Sophie
One of these community centres has a small section providing respite and transitional care for children with physical disabilities, as well as an educational and therapies-based day centre for children with special needs. They would welcome support from physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists to help provide specialist training in these areas.
Another health care project supported by our partners in Cambodia is the Lake Clinic. The doctors who work for this project care for the health of people living around or on the Tonle Sap Lake, far from dry land during the rainy season and remote from any form of health care. They have two boats which go out to floating clinics on the lake for three days every week, camping out overnight, with each boat carrying a team of doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives to these remote areas. The Lake Clinic sometimes welcomes appropriately qualified medical and dental volunteers to join their team (nurses and midwives are provided locally) and this may be of interest to appropriately skilled people prepared for a very remote volunteering experience.
It should be noted that, for certain types of medical volunteering, permission to practise is needed on a case by case basis from the Provincial Department of Health. This can impact both on the volunteer opportunities and the time it takes to confirm a placement.
Helping to improve health care by working alongside local people keen to develop their own skills and to help their communities is a really important way of enabling the people of Cambodia to break the cycle of poverty and take control of their own futures. If you have any of the skills listed at the top of this page, you can make a useful contribution here.