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Volunteer in Cambodia with vMaD (volunteers Making a Difference)
Non Profit International Volunteer Work Opportunities Abroad
Child Welfare - Volunteer Program Information
Nowhere is this quote more true than working with kids in Cambodia. Volunteers find it inspirational to see children with so little, enjoying life so much, especially when compared to the millions of spoiled yet unhappy children in the West. Volunteering is a two-way experience that will teach you (the volunteer) a lot about life, and a lot about yourself. You can hopefully help provide some unfortunate and impoverished children the fun and enriching childhood they deserve, and help send them out into the world as young adults ready to prosper. Volunteering here in Cambodia is just as rewarding to you as it is to the child. It is a balance of teaching, learning and knowing at the end of the day that you are helping out the life of a child. This is why although our main objective is to improve the welfare of children and young people in rural Cambodia, our project’s secondary objective is to expose our volunteers to different ways of learning, teaching, and sharing.
It is our belief that this project complements our other projects (water and sanitation, medical and nursing) and existing institutions (Prolit primary school) very well. It is not intended to exist solitarily, as the consistency of the project’s operations depends on the presence of volunteers. We are realistic about our capabilities as an organization and the fact that our day-to-day focus currently lies within our water and sanitation project and our sustainable agriculture and nutrition project. This is why our purpose is not specifically to teach English, or to provide medical care. The purpose of the project is to promote wellbeing in more general ways.
1) Introduce cultural diversity - We expose the children to cultures other than their own, expanding their worldview and introducing them to the notion that although they can learn from our international volunteers, our international volunteers can also learn from them. This will emphasize the notions of sharing and mutual respect, and will also begin to break down their preconceived notion that all people fall within a hierarchy, and that Western people are above them in this hierarchy.
2) Develop social skills to thrive in a diverse world - We are constantly introducing the children to new faces, helping to develop their social skills. Currently, it takes the children a very long time to warm up to new people, and their initial reaction is to cry or run to their parents when they see a stranger. This is not surprising considering that most children will have never left Prolit, and will therefore rarely meet new people! Getting comfortable around unfamiliar people is important. They must know how to meet and interact with new people, as they will leave Prolit to attend high school, and hopefully when they go on to University and seek employment.
3) Prepare for formal education - We introduce pre-school age children to the concepts of sitting with a large group of children, listening attentively to a teacher and each other, playing organized games in large groups, and teamwork, all of which prepare them to succeed when they start school. The kids regularly play amongst themselves, but it is rare to see a large group of them focused on one game all together, especially when those games require teamwork.
4) Provide medical attention - We can monitor these children relatively consistently through informal interactions for physical and mental health concerns that we may be able to help them with.
5) Provide child care - We provide entertainment for children that are not in school, which gives parents the opportunity to work more productively, or even just have some peaceful time to rest and rejuvenate.
6) Inject FUN and make kids feel SPECIAL - And last, but certainly not least, there is something to be said for injecting special activities in the life of these children. Although it may not seem that one day of learning and playing new games does much for the long-term well-being of these children, life in Prolit can be very repetitive. Injecting special activities is a way to make day-to-day life for these children more exciting. Western kids have many extracurricular activities and outings with their parents to stimulate them. We do our best to do the same for these children by bringing the excitement to Prolit!
You may be thinking that these objectives sound nice on paper, but what activities do you actually engage in to promote these? GOOD QUESTION! Below is a description of what MaD’s Children’s Welfare Program entails:
Our Children’s Welfare project consists of two sub programs:
1. Childcare and Teaching
Our activities centre upon the provision of child-focused services from the community centre and school in Prolit. What activities we are engaged in at any given time depends on the presence of volunteers, and the preferences of these volunteers. This project is STACKED with a variety of activities.
We offer supervised play and organized learning activities for children in a safe environment outside of school. This applies to both school age and pre-school age children. Our lessons are relatively unstructured for the reason that different volunteers have different preferences for teaching. We do have some textbooks that volunteers can use as a guide. We recommend playing games (alphabet song, head and shoulders, boogie woogie, etc.). Games can easily be invented on the spot to teach a specific lesson, and the local children will have many games that they will be excited to teach the volunteer! This is a crucial element of learning a second language – NOT in a class room environment – but rather through informal contact and association in a relaxed and casual way.
We engage the children in the following activities:
To ensure some level of consistency between volunteers we have given each child a notebook and pencil. These books allow the children to see their progress over time. The books are also helpful for new volunteers as they can see what has been done recently, and decide what should be reviewed and what should be taught next. What is not indicated in these books will be recorded in the volunteer diary - each child welfare volunteer writes about the activities they engaged in and advice for the next volunteer.