Volunteer in Cambodia
The most powerful moments of my 1-month Volunteer Vacations in Cambodia were during Volunteering days in Siem Reap. After a lot of research about volunteering, I decided to attend a 2 day volunteering on the organization “Touch a life”. The organization is run by a lovely lady named Mavis Ching. She feeds hungry children and delivers meals to families in nearby villages. With the help of volunteers, 3 times a week.
You can join them as many days, weeks, or even months. They need your help. The food preparation and delivery are for 660 poor people, each person receives a cup of rice, an omelet, and a cup of soup once a week (every Saturday). For the majority of these people, this is the only food they have for a week…think it twice…Once a week!! It took me a few shocking moments until I understand and realize it…
DISCLAIMER: I did the volunteering while I was still a Vegetarian.
Touch a Life
In addition, small food delivery for 50 people takes place in the village nearby, every Wednesday, and food lunch, on the house’s front yard every Monday. Except for the food, the center provides medicine to the ones in need and helps them in their daily lives needs with an exchange of volunteering at the center.
I arrive to do Volunteer Vacations in Cambodia, early in the morning, where Mrs. Mavis and few other volunteers from Singapore, China, France, Iraq, England, Germany, and few locals greet me politely. There is an outdoor kitchen and it’s the place where we prepare the food. 3 gas stoves for the omelet preparation and 3 gas stoves for the soup and rice preparation.
Cooking Time – Volunteer Vacations
Depending on availability, there is a standard person who prepares the omelet with the help of one more volunteer. The rest, participate actively in soup and rice preparation, afterward on the packing and lastly on the delivery around the villages.
The work has to be done fast, we have only from 8 am – around 3 pm to complete all the cooking and packing for 660 people. The delivery has to be finalized by around 6.30 pm. So if you are wondering whether the volunteers offer quality time, my answer is yes the work is exclusively by volunteers.
My role is to cut vegetables and to measure the rice. The rice has to be measured equally and to add/omit so.
Chop Chop Chop! – Volunteer Vacations
We cut, cut, cut quickly, we laugh, we joke, we sing, we chat, we exchange ideas, we sweat and sweat. Despite that, it’s very hot and humid and we have to speed up to catch up with the time, we really have a great time!
Omelet and Pepper
We make a break for a quick breakfast which is Bread, Omelette and Pepper sauce, which is absolutely delicious, especially the pepper sauce!
Volunteer vacations continue…
We complete the packing and here we leave for the villages deliveries. Nothing prepared me for the things to come…
Firstly we stop in the city for food distribution to a few street kids. We continue to the next destination where it’s a land of huts, earthen streets, and dust. But also endless poverty… We cross a small road inside the forest and we reach a small village. Firstly, my feelings are controversial…On the one hand, I am horrified by the situation but on the other hand, happy that I can help at least for 2 days.
We reach and enter the first house, where an old man leaves alone. His skin color is dark, dark hair, sad face and he is skinny very skinny. His house is just a small room, smells the urine, and consists of a wooden bed. How to describe his expression the moment he sees us??? A huge smile appeared to his face, I haven’t ever seen such a smile like a butterfly opens her wings, I am impressed by his calmness, politeness, and his gratefulness for the food. One of the most profound expressions of love gave to us was to bow his head and keep saying “thank you, thank you”, trying to communicate with his little English.
That was the moment that I snap and outburst. I come out of the room and start crying.
I notice that I am not the only one, we keep in silence for a while and I am wondering why life is so hard for some people, hundreds of thoughts passing through my mind…for my life, peace, death, happiness, poverty…everything in just a few seconds. That man in that room, with that big smile, hunts me and inspires up to date.
The Key to Life – Volunteer Vacations
We move to the next room where a blind sick woman lives alone also. Next for our deliveries…everybody knows when the volunteers arrive, they run and shout anxiously to catch up on the queue for the food pick up. It is a great exchange of smiles and big thank you’s of adorable children and women. We see shocking poverty, lots of kids with bloated stomachs due to hunger, abandoned women with their kids. Believe me, the photos are not showing the large-scale of our feelings and the situation in Cambodia.
Delivery Time – Volunteer Vacations
It is almost 6 pm and we delivered all the food. We are exhausted by the heat and the dust but we have no right to complain. Our main feeling is Happiness, the more we give the happier we feel.
On Monday we cook for around 50 school kids Tom yum soup, vegetables, rice, and chilly sauce. The kids arrive at 11.30 and the front yard fills up with cute sounds, smiles, and hugs.
I wish the time is not passing so quickly. All I know that I feel good in the sense that I had really succeeded in what I came here for To make a difference even for a very limited time. We have so much in our lives and they have little… who are happiest? Guess and you may re-evaluate your life.
A huge thank you to Mrs. Abi and all the amazing volunteers!
They made my Volunteer Vacations in Cambodia a Life changing experience indeed.
If you ever visit Cambodia and you wish to do Volunteering in a nonprofit organization or to help with other ways this is the site: Touch a Life and the Facebook page
“This is the key to life: To expect everything to be given to you from above. Yet to be genuinely surprised and forever grateful, when they are. Expecting all good things to be yours, while not knowing how to take anything for granted. If there may be a key in life, this is the key.”
― C. JoyBell C.”
- My experience in Angkor Wat, you can view it Here
Really touched by your post. Cambodia is on our bucket list. I will make sure to volunteer when I go. It’s the small things in life that make it worth living. Thanks for sharing .
Hi Vrithi, thank you for your message. yes I agree, volunteering is one of the best thing to do in Cambodia and generally to those in need..The feelings were so strong that I can’t really describe them….
I loved your article Penelopi, it sounds like such a rewarding experience! I wish I had more time to do some worthwhile volunteering in Cambodia, but I am also excited just to meet the lovely people 🙂
Hello, thanks for your message, it was an amazing experience indeed! You can do it next time you visit. 🙂
Great work, seriously impressed. Hope more of us follow your example. Lovely food pics btw, I am a vegetarian and just love looking at veggies lol!
Thank you for your message and your nice words.. Volunteering is really rewarding indeed. Besides that, the food was delicious!!!
The toughest part of volunteering, based on my experience, is coordination – and you know what they say about too many cooks – so your participating and documenting this effort is fantastic.
Hello Brooke, I totally agree with you! Despite the fact that we were a quite few people the lady in charged organises it perfectly and we had so much good time 🙂
This is so touching. It’s great to do volunteer work. I wish more people do it.
Thank you so much!! 🙂
WOW! Thank you so much for posting this – I will def be volunteering there when I visit.
What a sad situation that we are so privileged in comparison 🙁
Yes indeed! 🙁 thank you for your message.
I was incredibly moved by your post. As an American, I tend to take so many things for granted, especially food. Thank you for putting life back into perspective.
Thank you, Michelle! It was a shocking experience indeed…
Wow, such a neat opportunity. Thanks for sharing it with us Pinelopi!
Thank you, Kay!!
Your article really moved me. I have to admit that I didn’t really connect with the country when I visited, but maybe I was looking in all the wrong places. If I ever return I will most definitely seek out Mrs Abi and help in any way I can. Life changing indeed and thank you so much for sharing
Hello Vicky, Yes if you have an opportunity to visit the centre it’s a great experience!
What an incredible experience. I would love to have done something like that when I visited places like Siem Reap. It really seems like you helped make a difference and of course expanded your own worldview at the same time.
Thank you, Sarah!!! 🙂
That was a great post – very interesting. So many of us don’t realise how fortunate we really are until we see poverty like this first hand. I can understand how it may have been overwhelming for you at times. Thank you for making the effort to help those less fortunate & for detailing the experience so well.
Thank you, Therese!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
You are right. This is hard to see, but really to Read, as we aren’t there to experience what you volunteers did in person. I hope more people wake up to the conditions we have created in the world. I hope we do better for each other. I hope we do it soon. Have saved the name of the program for the future. Thanks
I really liked Siem Reap and it would have been great to spend some more time there volunteering.
Wow your post really touched my heart. It is so sad to see people suffering but it is so unbelievably impressive at the same time that there are organisations that do such amazing things. I just came back from my Malawi trip. This country and it´s people are amazing but unfortunately it´s the poorest country in the world and lot´s of help is needed as well. If I am going back there one day I would also love to help in an organisation like you did in Cambodia. Thanks for sharing.