Living at Hope

Accommodation

At the village school we have a volunteer house based on site, split into male and female rooms. It is quite cosy and very warm, but we do have a few fans to keep you cool at night. In the rooms we have basic mats to sleep on and mosquito nets. You are also welcome to bring your own mats or camp beds, bring whatever will make you most comfortable. There is a large amount of bedding at the house but it is the responsibility of volunteers to wash/dry their own linen. Please note that we do live in close proximity to a lot of animals, including dogs, cats, pigs, cows and chickens.

Due to the ever-changing numbers of people at the project, we may require volunteers to share sleeping space – but only with the same sex.

Hygiene Facilities

The washing facilities at the village school consist of a water vat and a small hand-bucket. Hand sanitizer is used a lot, so bring plenty. There is a simple toilet which also flushes through the use of a bucket and waste-paper basket. Although there are plans to update this to a shower nozzle and electric flush in the future, please come expecting to get to know the bucket very well!

Food, Drink & Supplies

There is a weekly fee of $25 at the project, which includes one dinner meal each day, drinking water and domestic supplies. The food is prepared daily in our kitchen attached to the volunteer house and is centred on rice, vegetables and a fried meat (often pork). This is a great way to ensure you remain well-fed and healthy, and to experience some authentic Cambodian dishes (Cambodian curry, loc-lak etc.). If you decide you wish to eat only one or two days, then meals are charged at $4. If you have any special dietary requirements such as a nut allergy or devout vegetarianism, please make this clear from the outset and our local cook will attempt to accommodate your request. Additional meals can be purchased from the school kitchen (at a small cost) or food supplies can be bought from Angtasoam Town (8km). Transport can be arranged via either a Tuk-tuk ride or a lively early morning walk. There is no bus.

Money

An ATM in Angtasom is the nearest cashpoint, accepting most VISA cards. Traveller’s Cheques can be exchanged in Takeo. Also in Takeo is Canadia Bank, where you can withdraw money with no charge. 99% of the time, it is fine to pay for anything in Cambodia in USD, provided the denomination is good: no village shopkeeper is going to have anything close to changing out a $50 or $100 note, so think carefully before brandishing the big notes. Change is usually given in Riel, which is how most Westerners acquire this closed currency. $1 is 4000 riel. Try and spend all of your riel whilst here as it can be difficult to exchange back home.

Medical Care

At the school we have a first aid box for any minor medical needs. In Takeo there is a healthcare centre and in Phnom Penh there is a French hospital if needed. There are pharmacies in town but we would recommend that you bring with you any medication you take regularly or think that you will need.

What we expect from our volunteers

We are an Agency working to help improve the lives of poor Cambodian children in the Takeo Province. We love what we do and are not a holiday resort for “voluntourism” or simply a source of cheap accommodation. We need our volunteers to be caring, passionate, responsible, and above all be willing to ‘step out of their comfort zone’ and really get stuck in when needed. As we are role models for the children at the project, it is imperative that all volunteers respect our code of conduct and local culture. As you are probably aware, our behaviour influences how Westerners are seen by the villagers.

The village community and the project enjoy a close and happy relationship. The hospitality offered by the Khmer people is incredibly generous and kind, to the point where we volunteers are invited to weddings within Bakod or given small gifts in the form of fresh food. We would like to keep it this way, and ask that you do not engage in any form of behaviour that would cause offence or discredit to yourself and the project. Please dress appropriately, refrain from smoking, swearing or drinking in front of the children and mostly act in a respectful manner.

Rules

  •  Wear appropriate clothing covering knees and shoulders. No low cut or crop tops. • To log and return resources used from the Office.
  •  Smoke out of the sight of children in the designated smoking area.
  • Drinking is strictly prohibited during school hours.
  •  All illegal drugs are banned at any capacity and at all times.
  •  Bedtime hours are from 10.00 p.m. to 8.00 a.m.
  • To inform the coordinator if you intend to leave the site. After half past seven if you want to leave the site, you must go in a group of at least four and be back at the project by 10.00 p.m. After 10.00 p.m. nobody is allowed off the school grounds without the permission of the Director.
  • Turn off all electrical appliances when not in use.
  • If you are not going to be present for a class that you either teach or assist in, you must inform the Director or coordinator 24 hours in advance.

Weekends & Excursions

During the week all the volunteers are based at the school. On the weekends there are no classes so you are free to enjoy a quiet weekend in the village or take a trip to some of the other amazing places around Cambodia; Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kampot, Sihanoukville and Mondulkiri. Usually a few volunteers will want to go to the same place which can save money on accommodation and travel. Jason, our director, can help arrange a taxi or bus for you. The main ask is that you return in time for classes starting on Monday, preferably on arriving on Sunday evening.

If you plan to arrive at the weekend there might be less of a welcoming party but there should still be some volunteers on site to help you settle in.

Other activities

  •  Quiz night (usually on Wednesdays)
  •  Trip to Angtasom Town
  •  Movie night
  •  Trips to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kampot, Koh Rong and Silhanouk Ville (only on weekends )
  •  Phnom Da, close to the Vietnamese border (approximately 45 minutes speed boat ride)
  •  Killing fields (approximately 20 km from the site on tuk tuk)

Departure

Due to the nature of volunteering, we at the project realise that the volunteers coming to work for our project are only temporary helpers – and we wish you the very best when you move on, hoping that you will stay in touch like the many volunteers before you.

On the morning of your departure, please ensure that you have cleared and cleaned your living area so there is no litter/dirt left behind for other volunteers. We would appreciate it if you could organise your transit from Bakod to your next destination at a time that does not overlap with teaching, so that we can say goodbye properly!

We want to make everyone feel welcome but recognise that we may on occasion have to deal with individuals who are not able to commit fully. If you feel that you are no longer capable of volunteering, we would ask that you give a valid reason and 7 days notice so that we have enough time to return any outstanding food contribution and plan for the disruption to the timetable that will occur.