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.
- Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
- Affordable fees from £682 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
This program is ideal for:
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.
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
- 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
Cambodia photo gallery
Academic course credit
Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!Learn about course credit
Read reviews from Special Needs Care volunteers in Phnom Penh
”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.”
Read reviews from Special Needs Care volunteers in Phnom Penh
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 any time on the Sunday before orientation. After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Siem Reap International Airport (REP). 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 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 travelling 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 socialising.
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
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.|
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.
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.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|5 weeks||£682 Equivalent to £20/day|
|6 weeks||£781 Equivalent to £19/day|
|8 weeks||£979 Equivalent to £17/day|
|10 weeks||£1176 Equivalent to £17/day|
|12 weeks||£1369 Equivalent to £16/day|
|16 weeks||£1747 Equivalent to £16/day|
|20 weeks||£2125 Equivalent to £15/day|
|24 weeks||£2503 Equivalent to £15/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteer Service
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately £282) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in GBP.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- The Animal Care project has an extra cost of US$10 per week to cover the resources that the local team donate to the placements, i.e. food and snacks, while the Medical project has a separate fees table (please see the Cambodia Medical project page) to cover the support you receive from the hospital staff.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Cambodia generally find US$50-80 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
Check what's required to visit Cambodia
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.
Essential country information
|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.