Siem Reap, Kompong Klang, and volunteering at SOID

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Asia » Cambodia » North » Tonlé Sap
February 2nd 2011
Published: July 25th 2011
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Tonle Sap lake is a great hub in Northern Cambodian for both tourism, enjoyment of Cambodian people and culture, as well as a place to lend a hand.

There are a lot of places in Cambodia that seem like good places to volunteer, but in fact, exploit the Cambodian people. For example there are tours set up where you can visit an orphanage, help out a little bit, and meet the children. Unfortunately, the money you pay for your trip to the building does not in fact go to the orphanage or to help the children in any way, shape, or form. This corruption has led to some skepticism on a traveler's part about volunteering and difficulty avoiding corrupt volunteer opportunities when one is seriously looking to offer help.

Matt did a fair amount of research and found SOID: Supporting Orphans and Indigent People of Cambodia for Development Organisation. It was started by a local Cambodian man and some very generous Dutch investors who have created a school for kids whose families are too poor to send them to government schools. In order to keep the kids out of the rice fields and able to learn Khmer and English, SOID offers free rice and medical services to the families. We spent a few days (unfortunately this is all we had) working with the teachers to help them, in whatever small way possible, to be better English teachers. We also made sure to purchase as many schools supplies as possbile, including a book for every student at the school, pencils, markers, paper, etc.

We spent about 8 days total in the Tonle Sap area, tuk tukin around the countryside, visiting local villages like Kompong Klang and others of unknown names, as well as drinking and shopping in the tourist area of Siem Reap. We also watched the documentary of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge at the night cinema in the Night Market, which gave our painfully short visit to Cambodia more meaning and emotion.

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