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e-volunteer - education & community support - Treak, Cambodia (EV)

Location: Cambodia
Project type: e-volunteer
Price from: £440 ie £36 per week - details below

Treak Community Centre is all about creating opportunity,not dependency. Link up with people at Treak from your own home, share your skills, mentor, take part in on-line teaching, find resources, develop entrepreneurial skills - so many possibilities

Skills required

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

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:
  • mentoring
  • online teaching
  • online teacher training at various levels of education
  • practical support for the development of the teaching programme
  • online training in health and social care
  • business skills - mentoring and developing skills of local people running Treak Creations
  • researching and/or creating resources
  • story telling
  • marketing, fundraising, proposal writing

Basic requirements for all of the above: enthusiasm, flexibility, patience!

This programme offers the opportunity to volunteer without leaving home for little cost.

Main project details

Although all schools and community centres in Cambodia were forced to close in March 2020 for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic and did not fully reopen until 2022, Treak Community Centre continued to offer support to their community in many ways, ranging from online teaching and the distribution of work to their school students, to sharing seeds and teaching local people how to grow their own food.  The remote support they received from volunteers proved invaluable and at the request of Treak Community Centre this method of volunteering continued even after the pandemic ended.

Our local partner in Cambodia says:

With Covid-19 closing schools and making international travel virtually impossible, the teachers at Treak Community Centre trialled online classes for our students in addition to producing and handing out worksheets each week.

A key component of these activities has been the help we've received from volunteers who have been unable to travel to Cambodia and who have connected with our staff and students through a variety of online platforms.

These "evolunteering" activities bring us many benefits.  They:

1. Enable volunteers to share their skills and experiences with our staff and students, thereby continuing the cultural exchange that has proved so beneficial to all parties
2. Demonstrate that people don't have to be present physically to offer their help
3. Help our students and staff to become familiar and comfortable with using technology for learning
4. Develop our teachers' skills as they have to learn new ways of teaching and working with volunteers
5. Benefit the wider community as we are now getting enquiries and general interest in online learning from parents in the village who hear about our classes from their children
6. Help prepare our students for a post Covid world where we expect there will be less travel and more online working of all types.  Interacting online with volunteers, learning together and overcoming the challenges, will be of enormous benefit for our students and staff alike

Treak Community Centre is all about creating opportunities for local people, rather than dependency. The project is ongoing and works to help people learn new skills, also increasing their own abilities, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth in the hope that these attributes will enable them to take control of their own futures.  The education programmes at Treak enable local village people to obtain decent jobs, especially in the tourism industry in nearby Siem Reap.  These jobs are helping to break the cycle of poverty that runs across much of rural Cambodia.

Treak Community Centre operates the following programmes, all of which are free for the students:
  • School - focusing on teaching English, general studies and personal and social education (around 300 children)
  • Nursery -  kindergarten education for 120 children, especially for the poorest families, encouraging engagement in education 
  • Library - many families in the village don't own a single book and the children are hungry for the opportunity to read 
  • Community Support Programme - provides employment, training, and food for poor villagers

Though Treak's main activities are in providing education, as the centre operates in a poor village, they get people in real crisis coming to them for assistance: no money, no food, no baby milk, sickness, family bereavement etc. 

Treak offers help through their Community Support programme, of which the main components are the garden programme - showing how people with little or no land can grow food for their families, the sewing programme - providing work for women of the village through the newly established social enterprise Treak Creations, and the brick-making and recycling programme - used to build useful structures in the village including the school itself, toilets for every home and even complete houses.  It's most important function however is to enable people to receive help with dignity as anyone needing assistance pays for this through work on one of these community projects.  The project manager, Salin, wants people to contribute in some way for the help they get by working at the centre etc. 
Daily Timetable    Monday to Friday 
Nursery classes 8.00 to 11.00 
English classes 8.00 to 11.00, (lunch break 11.00 to 1.00), then 1.00 to 4.00
Library 1.00 to 4.00 
Staff meetings held every Friday morning for staff and volunteers.
All teaching staff speak good English and will help with translation in the lessons. 
The school was on rented land with a 5 year lease due to expire in 2017.  After much fundraising they were able to buy some land directly behind the current site and they have built a completely new school on the land that has been bought.  This is now a permanent centre owned by TCC, built of bricks and concrete, including a school for the children which is especially important as the village doesn't have a government primary school.  The Centre consists of a 2 storey block of rooms containing 4 classrooms, 2 nursery classes, a library, 2 offices, a meeting room and a seminar room for presentation and community meetings; there is also a skills centre, a playground and small sports area, and a small kitchen.  The school is being built by local people, including making their own bricks.
The new buildings will enable the school to improve and expand their education programmes, and they are also particularly keen to develop ways to help the women of the village, especially those with young children to look after.  

I would unreservedly and enthusiastically recommend e-volunteering to others. It is a very flexible programme that allows you to integrate it into your daily life and commitments. It also allows you to involve yourself in volunteering, for either those who do not wish to travel to Treak or other placements, or as a forerunner or ‘taster’ for those who wish to travel in person at a later date. It is a ‘win-win’ situation for all concerned. e-volunteer Paul

Read more here about how the volunteer programme works with Treak Community Centre.


Treak village is about 4 kilometres to the south of Siem Reap town, which is the main tourism service town for the World Heritage site at Angkor Wat.  Though Siem Reap is pretty developed by Cambodian standards, if you make that 4 kilometre journey it is like travelling back in time 100 years.  Indeed, in many parts of the village, life goes on much as it has done for the past 1,000 years!  You can see wooden carts being pulled by cows, haystacks by people's houses where the straw from their rice fields is piled up, and pigs and hens and ducks and cows all living around and under the houses.  

People traditionally built their houses from whatever materials they could find and poor people's houses are still built in exactly the same way.  People who can afford to buy bricks and concrete are considered rich; poor houses are a single floor, about 6 metres by 4 metres, with a wooden frame and walls made of panels woven from grass and strips of bamboo.  The roofs are woven grass or palm leaves; if people can save up a bit of money they like to make a roof with corrugated metal sheets as these last much longer than the grass, which has to be replaced every 2 years or so.
The poorest people have no land and build little shelters out of whatever they can find: bamboo poles; bits of old tin; plastic bags; old tarpaulins; cardboard; grass; old bits of wood that other people have finished with etc.
Around 80% of the people in Cambodia live in the countryside.  Many people are farmers with a small rice field and a few animals; many are subsistence farmers who just grow enough for them and their families; many cannot even grow enough and their food runs out before the next rice crop is ready.  Increasingly, as the population steadily recovers, people find they have no land, or they have to divide up their land for their children.
There is no piped water supply in Treak village; all the water comes from wells and many families share wells.  The water has to be boiled or run through water filters before it is safe to drink but 30% of the families don't have water filters.
There is no sewage system in the village; people have simple collecting tanks next to their toilets that have to be emptied out.  50% of people have no toilet and have to use the forest.
There is no gas supply, there is no tarmac road; no one is connected to the telephone system.   
In parts of the village the only visible signs of modern life are mobile phones, televisions running off car batteries or the electricity supply, and a few motorbikes.  
Treak village is a very typical rural Cambodian village. Most people are subsistence farmers or fisherman; around half of the adults are illiterate, which is a direct consequence of the Khmer Rouge period when schools were closed, education was abandoned, and many teachers were killed or fled the country. At the end of the Khmer Rouge period in 1979 there were less than 10% of the teachers left.  Education continues to improve but it is still pretty basic and teachers' salaries are very low; this impacts on the standard of teaching, which is also often poor. There is still a shortage of teachers and school buildings so half of the children go to school in the morning and the other half go in the afternoon. The teachers have to teach the same lessons twice, starting at 7.00 in the morning and finishing at 5.00 in the afternoon, 6 days a week and all for about $80 - $100 per month.
There isn't a government primary school in Treak village.  The children have to attend one of the schools in the neighbouring villages.  Over 90% of children start primary school but many don't finish.  Only half of the children go on to start lower secondary school with only 18% of them going on to start senior high school.  The situation is much worse in the more rural areas that make up the majority of the country.  In addition, girls have much less chance of finishing school than boys and it's highly unlikely that a rural girl will complete her schooling.  
Treak village has 2,000 people living in 330 families.  Around 20% are on the official government poverty list which means they earn less than $1 per day.  30 families are classed as living in extreme poverty; this means that they have no land or job or savings or support from family members etc.  Families living in poverty find it very hard to afford to send their children to school so the children cannot get good jobs when they grow up and the cycle of poverty starts all over again.  There are good jobs within the tourism industry in nearby Siem Reap, though many are only for people who can speak & write English.  

'There were so many highlights of my volunteer experience and it is difficult to pinpoint particular ones.  I think the best part overall was working with an incredible group of dedicated and hardworking teachers who give their all and make it the place it is.'  Volunteer, Sophie

Whether you are a professional teacher or classroom assistant, have experience in business or finance, wish to offer your skills in IT or in practical ways, retired or in work and looking for a career break, you can share your skills and experience with local staff in this education and 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. 

To see a video interview with an e-volunteer at Treak Community Centre click here

Minimum duration

Flexible from 6 weeks, depending on the type of e-volunteering work you are able to do and how much time per week you can spare - we recommend a period of 12 weeks

Living Conditions

You will work from your own home

Project costs

£440 based on a 12 week placement
based on an exchange rate of $1.15 to £1.00

$200 placement design,management and support in Cambodia including regular video conferencing with you and the volunteer coordinator and project leader
$190 project contribution to fund the ongoing work of Treak and to cover any costs involved for Treak to facilitate your placement - eg purchase of materials locally 
£100 matching, preparation support in the UK including regular video conferencing with you before and during your placement and liaison with local partners

You will need to go through the people and places matching and monitoring process, which includes an up-to-date enhanced DBS check - if you require a new DBS check the cost is currently £29.80.
You will also need to cover the cost of any resources you wish to buy in the UK to support your e-volunteering work.
If you or your friends and family wish to make further donations to this project please contact us at

Why are we asking you to pay? Please take look here to learn why our work would not be possible without a payment from you

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!

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