So you are thinking of coming to Cambodia to help us – thank you! You may have already taken the chance to learn a bit about this lively country; but if not, then this may be of some help....
Cambodia is the poorest nation in South-East Asia, ahead even of the Laotians. The primary reason for this is that at the beginning of the latter half of the 20th Century the country underwent a brutal Civil War following independence from French Indochina. In the wake of this, the murderous and hateful left-wing Khmer Rouge faction under Pol Pot swept to power in 1975 and started implementing their extreme form of Agrarian Communism upon the country. This meant the systematic extermination of the country’s educated and elite (such as teachers, doctors and engineers) in Extermination & Torture Camps or forced labour in the rice-fields. Only invasion by Vietnam, Cambodia’s Communist former allies, put an end to the mass-slaughter. It is estimated that over a third of the entire population lost their lives to the genocide or its effects during this period.
It also meant a period of isolation from the West that only ended in the late 1990s. As a result, Cambodia is still sorely lacking in educated leaders and skilled professionals capable of driving the nation forward. Only through teaching and empowering new generations with knowledge and liberal understanding will Cambodia be able to break the cycle: this is where learning valuable global skills, such as English come to the fore. By assisting in teaching the children English, you equip them with a priceless asset that offers the chance for a better life, job and understanding of the world they live in.
It is well worth reading ‘First they killed my Father’ by Loung Ung and ‘Stay Alive, My Son’ by Pin Yathay. Both are first-hand accounts of the genocide. If you have purchased a Lonely Planet Guide, then there will also be a bit of a spiel at the front on the history of the region. For films, it is impossible to get away from the most famous movie about Cambodia – Apocalypse Now – but The Killing Fields is a moving and graphic account of the levels of Khmer Rouge brutality and well worth a watch.
The Cambodia of the ’10s is an eclectic mixture of the traditional and modern. The country is growing rapidly from foreign investment and development and each year brings new changes and challenges.
In rural Takeo Province, ox-carts and 4x4s drive on the same lively highways and you will be continually amazed at what can be loaded on to a 125cc scooter. As we live in a rural environment you will still see many aspects of traditional Khmer life mixed with mod-cons such as televisions and mobile phones.
NOTE- As a result of the constantly changing project environment, some of the details on this site may change from time to time (though we will strive to keep it as up-to-date as possible)