Volunteer in Cambodia
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 6 meaningful project options
- Projects based in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Pursat and Kampong Speu
- Accommodation in volunteer houses and homestays
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from US$360 for 2 weeks (approximately CA$445)
- Between 30 and 60 volunteers start in Cambodia each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Cambodia to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Cambodia will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Cambodia with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Cambodia volunteer program has volunteer placements located in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and the Cambodian provinces of Pursat and Kampong Speu. Volunteers are required to fly into Phnom Penh International, which is a 14 to 17 hour flight from most major airports in Canada. When choosing a volunteer’s placement and location, we carefully consider the needs of the local institutions we work with, whilst taking into account the background, experience and skills of the volunteer. Volunteers are placed where the most assistance is needed at the time of their volunteer program and volunteers are ultimately assigned with the projects that will benefit both the volunteer and the local institution.
Volunteer programs begin on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for durations ranging from 2 weeks to 24 weeks.
The level of education in Cambodia is considerably low, leading to a high level of poverty and unemployment throughout the country. English skills are required for most jobs in Cambodia, however many children do not have the opportunity to learn the language, as most parents cannot afford this type of education for their children. Volunteers on the Teaching English project work in orphanage and NGO-run schools, where they are needed to assist in developing the English skills of the children. Sometimes other subjects, such as IT, Mathematics and Art are also required to be taught. Volunteers are required to invest some time each day preparing lessons for their next class and the longer a volunteer participates on this project, the more responsibility they will be given. The schools where volunteers are placed run throughout the year and only close on public holidays. This means volunteers can participate on the Teaching English project throughout the year without being interrupted by long holidays. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
Working with NGOs
IVHQ’s partner organization in Cambodia cooperates with a network of over 40 local NGOs with volunteer placements available in the following fields: community development, human rights, health and HIV/AIDS awareness, gender issues, environmental issues, and education. NGOs in Cambodia generally have limited financial resources and often struggle to run their projects and to raise funds from international donors. These NGOs require volunteer support, primarily in fundraising and proposal writing, organizational development, administration and research. Volunteers work between 3 and 8 hours per day and the tasks of each volunteer depends on the volunteer’s skills and interests and program duration. If a volunteer’s program duration is less than 2 months, the main tasks will involve applying English skills to assist at the NGO. Tasks can include writing proposals for fundraising, preparing case studies and reports, teaching English to staff, and providing IT assistance. If a volunteer stays longer than 2 months, the volunteer will have the chance to work more independently and gain deeper involvement within the NGO and may have the opportunity to participate in field-based research. Please note, volunteers are assigned to NGOs that have the most need for assistance and provide the most suitable match for volunteers, taking into account each volunteer’s educational background, experience and interests. Volunteers who wish to join the Working with NGOs project must be 19 years of age or older and have relevant experience in the field they wish to work in. This can either be university studies or relevant working experience. Volunteers must participate on the project for a minimum duration of 5 weeks and bring their own laptops.
Many children in Cambodia have lost their parents due to HIV, while other parents cannot afford to provide their children with food, accommodation, or an education. As a result, many children are living in orphanages or attend childcare centers during the day while their parents are at work. Volunteers on the Childcare project are placed predominantly in childcare centers and usually work between 4 to 8 hours per day and have a 2 hour lunch break, which can be spent at the placement or volunteer accommodation. Childcare work ranges from administration, cooking, cleaning, feeding, caring for children, to teaching, assisting with homework and arranging activities such as painting, drawing, origami, singing, dancing and sports activities. Most placements have a focus on education and include classes on Khmer literacy and English language. Topics such as morality, hygiene and Khmer traditions are also discussed with the children. Some placements organize visits to the beach or local villages.
Non-Government Organiszations (NGOs) and orphanages in Cambodia rely heavily on computer technology and the Internet for communicating, managing programs, and developing a public presence. There is often a lack of local expertise in this area and training opportunities are very limited and expensive. Computer Support volunteers are required to provide assistance within NGOs and orphanages to implement, maintain and improve in-house computer systems to maximize the effectiveness of their communications and help educate staff and children. Volunteers can apply their passion for technology to support these placements in developing websites and social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter. Experience with Microsoft Office, website development or basic Windows System Administration is strongly sought after. Additionally, knowledge of LAN and printer administration, or security practices is also very useful on this project. Some placements require volunteers who can teach classes of adults or children to use basic tools in Microsoft Word and Excel, and website design. In addition to these tasks, volunteers may also be required to assist in report or proposal writing. Volunteers who wish to participate on the Computer Support project must have studied in a related field, or have advanced knowledge of the software mentioned above. Volunteers will work between 4 and 8 hours per day and must bring their own laptops.
Special Needs Care
Working with special needs children is a rewarding experience and suited to volunteers who are passionate about education and are looking for a more challenging project, which focuses on personal interaction with special needs children. Volunteers on the Special Needs Care project assist in special needs classes which cater for children between the ages of 5 and 18 years with a wide range of physical and mental disabilities, including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, deafness and blindness. Classes are often divided into smaller groups to allow for more individualized teaching and supervision of the children. Volunteers on this project may help to dress, feed and wash the children, who are always very happy to be in the company of volunteers, as disabled people are often rejected in Cambodian society. The focus for volunteers is to assist local teachers in a classroom setting, however for volunteers wishing to work longer hours, additional work may also be available at a small home for children with special needs. Volunteers with skills and experience in therapeutic treatments are also welcome on this project and can work one-on-one with children at the special needs center.
The Medical project in Cambodia provides students who have completed three years of medical school training the opportunity to experience a new culture and working environment, while simultaneously developing their specialized medical knowledge. Volunteers are given the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of differences between medical systems in developed and developing countries. The local team work with a pediatric hospital in Phnom Penh where volunteers can contribute to and learn about the health care environment in Cambodia. The main role for volunteers on this project is observational and there may be some hands on tasks you can do, depending on your duration.
- There is a minimum duration of 3 weeks and a maximum duration of 12 weeks.
- There is an initial surcharge of US$200 (approximately CA$270) for the first month and then US$100 (approximately CA$125) for each month there after which covers support you receive from the hospital staff.
- Applications must be submitted at least 6 weeks before your chosen start date.
- Students in at least their 4th year of medical school are eligible to join the project and volunteers must have training or experience in pediatrics.
- You will need to provide your resume and a recommendation letter from your university or employer once your application has been accepted.
- You will need to bring your own scrubs or lab coat and a stethoscope.
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of the month and volunteers need to arrive in Phnom Penh anytime on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Phnom Penh. 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, our local team can pick you up on Sunday from any hostel or hotel within Phnom Penh.
Orientation is hosted by our Cambodia team at the volunteer house in Phnom Penh. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Cambodia – Introduction to Cambodia, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
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 would is as follows:
7.00 AM Breakfast in the volunteer house or with your host family.
7.45 AM Volunteer leaves home and travels to the project. The volunteer joins with the local staff and will be given a duty roster and plan for work. Work and hours is dependent on the project and location that the volunteer is participating in.
12.00 PM - 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 with the children at your Childcare placement or in the office at Teaching/NGO placements and some placements will offer you food.
2.00 PM - 5.00 PM Work at the project usually ends. The volunteer at this point is free to travel home, sightsee or do shopping.
7.00 PM Dinner in the volunteer house or with the host family.
Volunteers are accommodated in either a volunteer house or homestay and you can expect to share a room with one to two other volunteers. Bedrooms are comprised of single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided, which includes a bottom sheet, blanket and pillow. Due to the heat, electric fans are provided in each room. Please note that there isn’t air conditioning in the accommodations.
Volunteer houses are located in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The 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, television and WiFi.
Homestays are located in Phnom Penh and the Cambodian province of Pursat. Staying with a host family provides a unique opportunity to learn about the Cambodian way of life, meet local people, sample traditional cuisine and engage in local customs and traditions. Living is basic, however all homestays have have electricity, WiFi and running water (some rural homestays may not have electricity or running water during times of drought). All homestays have been inspected by our local team and selected because of their safety and security.
In the provinces of Kampong Chhnang and Kandal, you will stay onsite in the childcare centers where the placements are located. You will have a separate room which you will share with up to one other volunteer. Electricity, running water, western bathrooms and WiFi are provided.
Volunteers in Cambodia are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Breakfast generally consists of fruits and baguettes. A typical lunch includes rice or noodles with fried vegetables and meat. Dinner consists of a range of dishes in the volunteer house, or a traditional Khmer meal at your homestay, including dishes of rice, soup, vegetables and meat with sweet, salty, bitter and sour flavors. Fresh fruits, such as mangos or pineapples are served with sticky rice for desert. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
“My volunteer experience was nothing short of amazing and I am so thankful for all the kindness and helpfulness from both IVHQ and the local staff. I look forward to returning to Cambodia as this experience greatly enriched my love for the country and volunteering. I felt most connected to the country through my in-office volunteer work and out of office bonding time with my colleagues and Cambodian friends that I met while I was there.” - Anna Jung (Working with NGOs Volunteer in Cambodia)
During the weekend, volunteers have spare time to relax or take the opportunity to explore their local town, or other areas of Cambodia, such as the Temples of Angkor Wat (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), various National Parks, or the beaches in the south of Cambodia. During the long public holidays in April, September and November, you may also wish to travel further afield to Laos, Vietnam or Thailand.
See our Cambodia Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Cambodia!
|Currency||Cambodian Riel (KHR)|
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.
Volunteer programs begin on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for durations ranging from 2 weeks to 24 weeks.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Cambodia. Additional requirements apply for Medical, Working with NGOs and Computer Support volunteers, please read the project descriptions for details.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.