Cambodia is one place where your help can really make a difference. The country has gone through years of disaster, which means your time spent working as a volunteer abroad will be most valuable, helping this beautiful nation get back on its feet.
It was during the 1970s that Cambodia was rocked, when communist Pol Pot took power following years of warfare and struggle. Under his leadership, 1.7 million Cambodians died in the three years following his takeover in 1975, as a result of starvation, torture, execution and exhaustion.
Despite its efforts to recover since these atrocities, which saw many thousands being murdered and the rest living in horrendous conditions, Cambodia remains a very poor country, so your presence alone will help the tourist industry and give its economy a much-needed boost.
The nation still relies on aid and voluntary support by those who are willing to offer it, which is where you can come in. By undertaking a volunteering project in the Asian country, you will be able to help those who are still directly affected by the harsh regime of nearly 40 years ago.
A lot of those who died during the 1970s did so as a result of difficult living conditions, forced labour, diseases and starvation. Victims who were murdered through brutal executions left behind families who had to survive without them, and some of these continue to feel the effects of overpopulated countryside locations, lack of food and sanitation today.
As part of your travels, you could teach young children and assist them with vocational training and other typical school subjects. Doing this will give them a chance to get an education and enable them to improve their living standards in the future. By helping them to learn English, for instance, they may gain the opportunity to work in a broad range of industries and get well-paid jobs that could help them and their entire families in years to come.
As well as teaching children, you can help at local orphanages, of which there are many, particularly in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. Your role as a volunteer will be to assist in daily tasks such as looking after the children, feeding them, putting them to bed and getting them clothed. You will also help support and care for them, which is crucial for orphans who have lost their parents and lack a network of relatives.
It isn’t just about looking after the youngsters though, and by having fun with them, helping them to play sports and take part in art classes, you will give them a chance to laugh and enjoy themselves, despite the difficult start to life they’ve had.
While your work will be rewarding for you, to have a reminder of why it is so important to people in the country, it is worth visiting the Killing Fields (otherwise known as Choeung Ek Museum) in Phnom Penh. Here, 17,000 Cambodians – including women and children – were tortured and exterminated, and you will see remains of their bones and mass graves where this took place.
A visit to the Tuol Slend prison (or the S-21 Genocide Museum) will also help bring home the significance of your help, giving you more information about the mass slaying, the tiny size of the cells prisoners were kept in and photos of those who never made it out alive.