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Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Cambodia - Phnom Penh

Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Cambodia - Phnom Penh

Interested in being a Special Needs volunteer in Cambodia? International Volunteer HQ’s Special Needs Care project empowers volunteers to assist and interact with elementary school children who are disabled in Phnom Penh. Volunteers will gain experience of working with children with disabilities while the children in turn benefit from the extra care and attention they receive from volunteers. Effective and enthusiastic special needs care can make a real difference to their quality of life.

Highlights:
  • Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
  • Affordable fees from CA$1140 for 5 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Give care and attention to children with a range of disabilites

  • Explore Cambodia’s diverse natural landscapes

  • Stay with other volunteers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city

'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

Key information

Care & connect with disabled people
Based in Phnom Penh
Volunteer house accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Fully hosted experience from CA$1140 for 5 weeks
Durations from 5 - 24 weeks
Explore Cambodia's amazing temples
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Warm, caring volunteers who are patient, compassionate and want to help disabled people. You’ll be working with local staff so no experience of working with disabilities is needed, but appropriately qualified volunteers may be able to take on more therapeutic roles. You’ll also need a health certificate from your doctor stating you are fit to work with disabled people.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

In Cambodia, people with disabilities are often excluded from society and can struggle to get the help they need. Elementary schools in Cambodia run special needs programs, but often there are too many students and not enough teachers. The help of volunteers means that staff are able split classes into smaller groups to provide more effective and personalized care which can make a huge difference to students’ quality of life.

As a Special Needs volunteer in Phnom Penh, you’ll be helping those with a range of disabilities including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, and other intellectual disabilities and they are typically babies up to young adults. You may also take part in outreach work, where you’ll visit the homes of students who cannot attend class.

Special Needs volunteers may find themselves helping with a range of tasks including:

  • Assisting special needs teachers
  • Helping with the basic activities of daily life
  • Encouraging the development of social and community skills
  • Supporting therapeutic activities and rehabilitation

To join the Special Needs Care project, due to placement requirements, volunteers will need to provide a health certificate to the local team once registered.

COVID-19 requirements for Cambodia: Please note that there is a requirement for all volunteers on the Cambodia program to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated (including booster), at least 14 days before flying to Cambodia. These measures are in place until further notice so please do keep this in mind for your planning.

Volunteers on this project will also need to bring a RAT (rapid antigen test) or equivalent with them from home and complete this in front of the local team upon their arrival.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

Why do Special Needs Care volunteering in Phnom Penh with IVHQ?

Why do Special Needs volunteering in Cambodia with IVHQ? While volunteering on the Special Needs project in Cambodia, you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Supporting young people with disabilities
  • Helping improve access to care for people with disabilities
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining experience working with disabled youth
  • Immersing yourself fully in Khmer culture
  • Discovering Cambodia’s beautiful beaches

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers must be aged 18+ to join this project
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English
  • To join the Special Needs Care project, due to placement requirements, volunteers will need to provide a health certificate to the local team once registered
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

HP
Hannah Pruett
01 May 2024

I had ample guidance and preparation resources that allowed the trip to go smoothly, and I travelled to Cambodia with confidence due to the help I received prior to departing. The local team was a friendly and knowledgeable group. They all made sure that we were happy and taught us many things about the local culture and were very time oriented.

This opportunity has made me realize that so much joy comes from volunteering and helping those around you. I will most likely be volunteering with IVHQ again in the future.

I gained confidence, new friends, a better resume, a connection with the students and school, and so much more. If someone is feeling hesitant about joining, they should follow their instincts and think about why they are looking into volunteering abroad. This route is affordable and safe. Traveling abroad this way allows you to have connections with the locals that can speak the language and help you in any situation.

...
BL
Barbara Leslie
13 Mar 2024

The Program Guide is very thorough. It was easy to return to sections to double check details. I definitely gained an awareness of the reality for teachers in a third world country. They worked extremely hard with so few resources. I discovered that the Cambodian people with whom I worked with are so very resilient and well intentioned. Their circumstances are so very different from our first world circumstances they have no frame of reference, but were very eager to learn. I benefited tremendously from the experience, more than I anticipated. While I was there to help, which I believe I did, I received much in return.

...
MO
Margarita Obarzanski
21 Feb 2024

I am very happy with all the help provided by the IVHQ team. The local team was always available to help with any questions or issues. I did not have any issues and all of my time in Cambodia was great, from the start to the end.

I have given the info about IVHQ to many people, even before I went to Cambodia. I will have no problem telling everyone and showing my experiences in photos.... I loved it!!!

...
NJ
Nicole Java
27 Aug 2021

Volunteering in Cambodia through IVHQ is such an amazing experience. Not once did I feel unsafe during my 2 volunteer programs and if there ever came a time that I needed help the local team and IVHQ were right there to help me out. It is such a great way to see the country while being able to give back at the same time. Allowing me to broaden my horizons and meet so many people around the world. I would with out a doubt definitely go back and volunteer for a 3rd time.

...
CM
Caitlin Milan
29 Jan 2021

I loved the children at my placement and working everyday was a true joy. I️ also enjoyed having the ability to take weekend trips and explore more of Cambodia. Overall I️ had a great experience, met amazing people, and got a beautiful taste of the Khmer culture.

...
CF
Chelsea Foster
29 Jan 2021

I highly recommended volunteering in Cambodia to all individuals - it changes your outlook on life - it makes you more grateful and grounded and I feel everyone in the world can benefit from that. The people are beautiful, and if you feel you should give back to the world then these are the people who need it most and will forever appreciate it!

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

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Volunteer Abroad in Cambodia with IVHQ

Location

In the heart of Southeast Asia, Cambodia is a country full of beauty and tragedy. As well as an abundance of beautiful beaches and temples there are many reminders of the history of genocide and civil war that left Cambodia one of the least developed countries in the world. In Phnom Penh there are numerous places where you can learn about what happened, including the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre. It is important to be informed about these poignant events in order to gain a better understanding and deeper respect for the Cambodian people and their culture.

As an IVHQ volunteer in Cambodia you could be based at placements in the capital city of Phnom Penh, the remote city of Battambang, or by the impressive temples of Siem Reap.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of the month and volunteers need to arrive in Siem Reap on the Sunday before orientation. There are two airport pick-ups times available: one at 10:00am and the other at 4:00pm. Arriving later than the Sunday before your start date is not allowed, as volunteers need to be ready for orientation early on Monday morning.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (SAI). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee when utilizing the 10:00am and 4:00pm pick-ups.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in Siem Reap. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the Sunday night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Cambodia prior to your volunteer program, the local team can pick you up on Sunday from any hostel or hotel in Siem Reap.

Orientation is hosted by our Cambodia team at the volunteer house in Siem Reap. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Cambodia – an introduction to Cambodia, its culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Although you are expected to fly into Siem Reap, as this is where the program orientation is held, your placement may be based elsewhere; either Siem Reap, Phnom Penh or Battambang. After your time on the program ends, you can either fly out of Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, although please note that your transportation back to the relevant airport is at your own expense.

Volunteer schedule example

First Day

On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.

Weekdays - A typical volunteer day might be:

7:00 AM Breakfast in the volunteer house or with your host family
9:00 AM Volunteer leaves home and travels to the project to begin work
12:00 - 2:00 PM Lunch break. In Cambodia all workplaces have a lunch break for about 2 hours. Some start earlier, some later. During this lunch break you are welcome to stay at your placement. Some placements will offer you food.
2:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the project usually ends. You are free to travel home, sightsee or do some shopping.
7:00 PM Dinner in the volunteer house or with the host family.

Weekends

Cambodia is packed with a vast range of things to do and see in your free time. In the modern capital city of Phnom Penh you can visit the king’s official residence, The Royal Palace, and the famous Silver Pagoda, check out the huge art-deco market, cruise along the Mekong or learn about Cambodia’s devastating history at one of the many museums.

The tourist hub of Siem Reap is home to Angkor Wat, a collection of temples that together form the largest religious monument in the world. There are many hotels, resorts, markets and museums, and nearby is a lake with floating villages, a national park featuring waterfalls, rivers and Cambodia’s largest reclining Buddha.

During the long public holidays in April, September and November, you may also wish to travel further afield to Laos, Vietnam or Thailand.

Accommodation and WiFi

You will be accommodated in either a volunteer house, guesthouse or home-stay and you can expect to share a room with four other IVHQ volunteers, who are of the same gender. Bedrooms are comprised of bunk beds with bedding provided, which includes a bottom sheet, blanket and pillow. Although there is no air conditioning, electric fans are provided in each room and if volunteers require additional cooling, they are able to request an additional fan via the local team.

If you’re volunteering in Siem Reap, you’ll be accommodated in a volunteer house. Volunteer houses have electricity and running water and the majority of rooms have private bathrooms. In each volunteer house, there is a sitting area, dining area, TV and Wi-Fi.

For those volunteers placed in Phnom Penh, you will be accommodated in either a homestay hosted by a family who has been approved by the local team in Cambodia or a local guesthouse, depending on where your placement is located. Both the guesthouse and the homestay also have electricity and running water. Being in a homestay for your duration on the program is a fantastic way to experience the local culture and even if you are placed in a local guesthouse, this is still a great way to interact with the local community.

If your placement is in the province of Battambang, you will stay on-site in the school compound. You will have a separate room which you will share with up to one other volunteer. Electricity, running water, western bathrooms and Wi-Fi are provided.

Meals

Volunteers in Cambodia are provided with three meals a day which are served in the volunteer house. Breakfast generally consists of seasonal fruit and bread with a variety of spreads such as; peanut butter and jam.

Lunch and dinner is usually rice or noodles with fried vegetables and meat. These meals include a wide range of dishes consisting of rice, vegetables and meat with sweet, salty, bitter and sour flavors. Volunteers on the Animal Care project should expect a packed vegan lunch.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please let the team know when you apply for the program so arrangements can be made.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
5 weeks $795 Equivalent to $23/day
6 weeks $910 Equivalent to $22/day
8 weeks $1,140 Equivalent to $20/day
10 weeks $1,370 Equivalent to $20/day
12 weeks $1,595 Equivalent to $19/day
16 weeks $2,035 Equivalent to $18/day
20 weeks $2,475 Equivalent to $18/day
24 weeks $2,915 Equivalent to $17/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$472) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Cambodia generally find US$80-100 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Check what's required to visit Cambodia

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Phnom Penh
Population 16.49 million
Languages Khmer
Currency Cambodian Riel (KHR)
Time zone UTC+07:00

Weather and climate

Cambodia has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22°C (71.6°F) and is generally accompanied by high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April and temperatures can rise up to 40°C (104°F ) around April.

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How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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