With the outbreak of war, many children were left abandoned, meaning that they have lost contact with their families. After the war, orphanages were opened up to provide support to these young people. The orphanages that Cooperating Volunteers collaborates with are located in the cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Despite the fact that the war is now over, the poverty suffered by many families means that many children are sent by their parents to live in these orphanages, in the hope that they will receive a better education there.
The volunteer will be tasked with providing assistance in many different ways inside the orphanage. The type of work and the working hours will depend on the centre to which the volunteer is assigned. In general, the volunteer will be expected to work for 4-6 hours a day. The daily activities usually include caring for the children, helping them with their homework, teaching them English and other subjects, playing interactive games with them, drawing, singing and teaching them songs, amongst other things. The volunteer will also help with operational tasks at the centre, such as preparing the meals, helping to maintain the centre and ensuring order and discipline.
The children often attend school, where they study a fixed set of topics such as the Khmer language, culture, hygiene and morality-related topics.
The volunteer needs to know how to adapt to social changes and be able to accept all of the tasks that are assigned to them in the centre, adopting a proactive attitude to ascertain the ways in which they will be able to help in the centre.
- Program start date: every Monday
- Minimum stay: two weeks
Example of work in an orphanage:
The María Teresa Orphanage in Phnom Penh is an orphanage run by Catholic nuns, which provides a service to around 20 children aged from 5 months to 10 years old. The nuns of the orphanage take their beliefs very seriously, and try to transmit their faith to the children who attend the centre. As such, the volunteer needs to be understanding and tolerant, as the nuns do their very best to look after the children.
This orphanage remains closed on Thursdays so that the nuns can practice their faith. Excluding Thursdays, the volunteers will work for 5-6 hours a day from Monday to Friday. In this case, it’s important for the volunteer to dress respectfully, ensuring that their shoulders and knees are covered. They should also know that the hygiene conditions at the orphanage are very poor.