From the Alaskan glaciers to Israeli deserts, from my Nepali home in the Himalayas to my new home on New Zealand's South Island, these past 12 months have been nothing short of incredible. With this summer inching closer and closer, it is time to brainstorm how I can make the most out of these last few months before returning back to the States to finish up my college career in Boston.
The Plan: What to Do, Where to Go?
The first week of July, I will arrive in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh where I will be spending about four weeks working as a volunteer with International Volunteer HQ, a worldwide organization that hosts volunteer projects in different cities around the globe. I wanted to do something meaningful with my precious weeks of summer freedom... Cambodia seems like a most wonderful place to begin my summer journey.
The Goals: What am I Seeking?
To combine my insatiable love for travel, cultures, and cultural delicacies with the desire to give back to others. To learn about various South East Asian traditions and philosophies while immersing myself in local communities. To dig more deeply in understanding the humanitarian issues that are very much a part of our modern world. To continue my year of adventure and travel by venturing completely outside of my comfort zone.
And last but not least, for my small act of service to contribute to the globalized effort in bringing positive change to communities in need of it most.
What's Going on in Cambodia? How Can I Help?
Right now, the level of education in Cambodia is fairly low, leading to high levels of poverty and unemployment throughout the country. IVHQ works with orphanages and NGO-run schools to teach children English skills, as parents ordinarily cannot afford this type of education for their children. I'll be working with the Teaching English Project to help with educating young Cambodians so that they can one day enter the job market and build substantial lives for themselves and their families.
Although it is a beautiful country with a rich culture and rather tragic Khmer history, Cambodia is home to many thousands of orphaned children whose parents were lost to HIV and other diseases, as well as those parents who simply cannot afford to provide basic food, shelter, and education for their children. Many of these children are disabled and are rejected by Camobodian society. I'll be working closely with these orphans through IVHQ's childcare programs doing things like cooking, cleaning, feeding, and teaching while also helping them with their homework, singing, painting, and playing sports. Maybe I can even sneak in a yoga class with the kids :)
Why This Program?
I've done a ton of research on different volunteer programs, and IVHQ is one of the most reputable offered in various countries around the world. In their Cambodian Project, they work closely with over 40 local NGOs and place volunteers in fields of community development, human rights, health and HIV/AIDS awareness, gender issues, environmental issues, and education. I hope to be placed in one of these local projects and help out in any way I can while absorbing and learning about Cambodian culture and the humanitarian issues that are currently being addressed.
How Can You Contribute? Where Will Your Donations Go?
All donations of any amount will be SOOO unbelievably appreciated. Your kind offers will aid in covering airfare, program and registration fees, which include food and accommodation for the weeks I will be staying with the organization in their volunteer house (or homestay). All extra funds will be donated to the orphanage I will be working in and I will be posting about local NGOs if you wish your donation to be sent there. Your generosity will help fund my volunteer work in Cambodia, as I travel through local villages, learn about Khmer traditions and cultural history, while working closely to teach and learn from Cambodians!
I vow to keep everyone updated throughout my volunteer travels in both my blogsite and on this donation webpage, with tons of photos and stories of my experience-- of things I see and do, of places I visit and people I meet along the way!
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