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 four 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 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.
'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
Whether you have skills in community work, business, education or health care, are retired or in work and looking for a career break, you can share your skills and experience with local staff in this community development project. Other skills and experience will be welcomed too - take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page.