Had a great experience volunteering on the clean water project in Siem Reap Cambodia and it has engaged me in continuing to support the amazing work that Trailblazer does.
I worked with Trailblazer for a week in October 2017. A week just wasn’t long enough! The vision of the team to make a difference was fantastic and working on the creation of the water filters identified the power of bottom up development. The highlight of the week was going into the more remote areas and installing the filters. Being during rainy season, it was clear that it wasn’t a lack of water that was the issue, the impact and extent of flooding was evident. However,what Trailblazer do is to change the lives of people by providing these essential filters. As a teacher back in the U.K. I have talked with my students about the work of Trailblazer and its importance to development. I really hope to return to the project, but for much longer next time.
Visited the program in Cambodia in 2013. Top notch!
I was so impressed with the work that Trailblazer is doing in Cambodia when we visited in 2011! They work with local people on local projects that will empower and support local people. We donate as often as we can because we recognise the importance of their work. Inspiring!
Although program outcomes are essential to any mission driven organization the criticality of an involved board of directors (BOD) and effective staff administration should not be overlooked. The Trailblazer Foundation serves as an example of how the BOD/staff work hand in hand to develop and deliver programs whose outcomes make a difference.
As a former nonprofit associate professor at a major university, I have worked with thousands of well meaning nonprofit employees - both new to the field and established management - and have personally observed how good intentions are just one piece of a well run organization. A sustainable organization - one that will endure both the triumphs of successful programs - as well as the pressure to achieve more impact with constrained resources - requires dedication evidenced by the Trailblazer BOD, staff - and volunteers!
In today's complicated and often fretful world, it can be easy to turn away when the "job" seems never ending or unachievable - but I can attest to the dedication and devotion that TB staff has today as well as the future to support the people of Cambodia.
Global Leadership/Nonprofit Management
Denver, CO (former affiliate faculty)
I was a volunteer for 4 weeks with Trailblazer in Siem Reap and had the most amazing and enlightening time. It is remarkable how much the Foundation has achieved both on the water filters and wells front, and also on the educational front via various amazing school projects and teaching local families how to provide for themselves. I worked with the water filter team and felt privileged to work with such a dedicated team and also humbled by the dignity I observed amongst the families to whom we delivered the filters. The Trailblazer Foundation, under the direction of Chris and Scott Coats and their wonderful staff, deserve every accolade going and all the support we can offer. I will be volunteering with them again. Nina x
Scott Coats and Chris Coats started Trailblazer Foundation with a simple assumption -- communities have within them both a desire and the intelligence to move forward. As a person with 38 years of nonprofit executive leadership and consulting experience, I know when someone just has the right idea, sweeps the silly doubts, questions and industry fads aside and does what is important in the right way. Traiblazer has done that, giving substantive expression to the term empowerment in the most vulnerable and marginalized villages in Cambodia. While more esoteric and better funded groups have their agenda about this system, that change or a host of shoulds that are completely out of touch on the ground, Trailblazer just takes another dozen steps forward, connecting local villages and regional structures, facilitating trust, nurturing hope, moving to the next village when the consistent results have manifested the roots and trunk of a sustainable future.
I love how Trailblazer Foundation is making a huge difference in Asia, to help people who would otherwise be captive in their poverty. I love their sense of justice, giving practical help to the poorest of the poor.
I volunteered for 2 1/2 months digging wells with the drill team nothing compares to see the smiles and great fullness of the families that we got water to. It definitely was a life changing experience
Hey there !
I completely loved this experience ! This is amazing how giving your time for a good purpose make you feel so happy.
My experience at Trailblazer was my first volunteering and not the last :). I've learned a lot on myself but also on the power of volunteering.
Think about that you are helping people having access to clean water ! Imagine how you would feel, living aaway from any grosseries shops without water ? Having to go by waking/motocycling everyday just for getting water seems unbelievable for you ? but that's their daily life and traiblazer is changing this!
I am very glad I worked with trailblazer. The staff are really nice and funny, volunteers I met were also very nice and actually thanks to traiblazer I am gonna go meeting them in Canada and elsewhere.
Plus living in Cambodia was such a good experience :)
Trailblazer is really a good NGO much better than some others who are building a business on the money that they ask you to pay for volunteering...
Although I only spent 2 weeks volunteering with trailblazer, I will defiantly go back long term & help them achieve there goals.
What trailblazer is doing is amazing, I was really happy with what I saw + all the staff are great!
Highly recommend trailblazer when in siem reap!
It's great to see someone making a difference out of there own comfort zone in someone else's backyard!
Leadership & Philosophy: Originally visiting the Trailblazer Foundation (TF) while volunteering with a partner organization, I was completely captured after speaking with the co-founder, Scott Coats, about TF's work, philosophy, staff, volunteers, and impact. I was so caputred that I asked if I could stay for a month and volunteer. The focus for TF is on actually listening to the people to help guide them towards sustainable solutions. I saw far too many nonprofit organizations throughout Southeast Asia and Cambodia that go in with preconceived ideas of what will work and then do it (in a western/non-localized way) with minimal to no villager interaction. Now those villagers are waiting for the next handout. Instead, TF has a sustainable development model where the communities invest in their own futures (for instance each villager pays a small amount for each biosand filter that is put into a village fund for the villagers to take loans from and managed by an appointed villager). This allows the villagers to feel included in their own growth, and it encourages them to problem solve and develop solutions. It may be a slower solution sometimes, but it is a far more sustainable future for these villagers to empower them to create their opportunities with TF's support.
The Crew/TF Team: The team that works at TF both inside and outside of Cambodia is incredible! It's obvious that they enjoy what they do and are proud of it! They are a smart team and very fun to work with and learn from, and they really care about the people they are supporting. They're not just building filters and wells and agricultural systems. They're providing clean water, access to water, and sources of income to some of the poorest people in Cambodia who would otherwise continue facing uncontrollable illnesses and unhealthy levels of poor nutrition.
Beneficiaries & Impact: I had the pleasure of meeting with different villagers while gathering information with a TF team member for case studies/impact assessment and for the Village Savings Funds. Wow. The beneficiaries of TF's support are truly inspirational. They all have endured challenging hardships, yet they are so resilient and share a smile with the world that brings so much warmth to the atmosphere.
Volunteer Work: My volunteer experience was different than most, but if anyone is ever looking for a more hands-on opportunity to volunteer, then the Trailblazer Foundation would be an amazing place! Most volunteers have the opportunity to help in not only building the filters, but also in delivering them to the villagers with the team. An experience that can never be replicated.
I am grateful to be a part of the Trailblazer Foundation's family going forward and continuing to support their amazing work! Thank you, TF!
This is one of the best organizations I have ever volunteered for. They truly are trying to make Cambodia a better place and challenge poverty. I was so inspired to see how the whole organization was run and the amazing things they do for people everyday. I searched online for various volunteering opportunities in Cambodia but kept finding organizations that made you pay high prices to volunteer and had development practices that were questionable on whether they were really helping people. However, I was so glad to find a REAL volunteering experience when I stubbled upon the Trailblazer website and thought hey, this is just what I am looking for! This organization is honestly helping Cambodian people in so many ways and with very ethical, smart, just, and respectable ways. Upon arrival to the organization I found that the staff were so welcoming and really make you feel a part of a team. I got to make water filter deliveries to communities, work in the garden, filter sand, and many other hands on activities. Visiting communities with the organization really shows you what their work is doing to improve communities and lives. I was only 19 when I volunteered here, if you are a youth looking for a ethical organization to really get to know the true people, culture and realities of Cambodia then I really recommend volunteering at Trailblazer. It changed my life in many ways and I hope it does for you too. Thank you Trailblazer!!
-Rachelle from Canada.
My friends and I went to Siem Reap wanting to help a village school build a library. We had no idea where to start. Having read about The Trailblazer Foundation in the book 'Unsung Heroes Cambodia' which had just been launched during our first visit in June 2013, it was one of the organizations we approached for advice. At the end, it was the ONLY organization that gave us plenty of advice and shared with us their experience. Their country director even helped us to get our project started and continues to help us in monitoring the progress of the building, as we are not based in Cambodia. We were very fortunate to have met Chris Coats, one of the founders, on one visit in July. We saw the various work TF is doing, first hand, and we were just in awe of the magnitude of positive effects their work has in the lives of thousands of Cambodians.
The Trailblazer Foundation is a fantastic organization that is truly making a difference in the local community. I had the privilege of volunteering with them for 10 weeks in 2012. During my time at Trailblazer, I volunteered with the awesome guys on the Water Filter Team, doing work involved with building, distributing, and assembling bio-sand water filters and their components, and I also helped out with agricultural projects on occasion.
One of the best parts about volunteering with the Trailblazer Foundation is that you can immediately see the impact you are having. From day one, I could understand how the work I was doing would benefit people in the local community. And, better yet, just days after I started volunteering, I was able to go on a water filter delivery where I helped distribute and assemble water filters in a local village.
On the water filter deliveries, I was able to meet the families that were receiving the water filters and see the end result of our hard work. Having the opportunity to see exactly where your time and effort are going makes a world of difference and really drives home the importance of what life-changing work is being done by Trailblazer.
In the span of my 10 weeks at Trailblazer, I was able to help build, distribute, and assemble 85 water filters in 10 different villages! It was such an incredibly rewarding experience that I won't soon forget!
I really cannot speak highly enough about the Trailblazer Foundation and all the wonderful people that work there. I'm grateful to them for letting me be a part of the important work they do, and I definitely recommend volunteering with them if you're ever in Cambodia!
I worked for Trailblazer Foundation in Siem Reap, Cambodia as an Agriculture Advisor during the dry season of 2010. The foundation is well organized for a non-profit ngo and works well with both local employees and recipients of their aid programs. After having worked with for-profit ngos as an Assistant Administrator since my time in Cambodia, I can definitely recommend this organization to anyone.
This is a top notch organization run by fantastic people. My experience volunteering there was life-changing as well as talking to them about how they organize their work WITH the community, not just FOR.
I came upon Trailblazer Foundation whilst researching organisations involved in providing assistance to the rural poor in Cambodia. TF are a lean organisation dedicated to delivering sustainable projects like providing clean water through bio sand filter and wells with very little of their funds burnt in overhead. They have a number of other projects (agriculture and school development) which we saw at first hand last year when we visited Siem Reap. A very inspirational organisation which improves the lives of the poor in Cambodia.
We continue to be engaged with TF since our visit last year by raising awareness and funds in our local community. TF is a very worthy organisation.
Wonderful organization, I highly recommend. Not only does Trailblazer help people by creating sustainable projects for those in need. I had an amazing experience with Trailblazer 2 years ago and continue to support them financially when I can. Very special to me and I know to those who are fortunate enough to experience Trailblazer will feel the same.
This is one of the most upstanding and genuine organizations that I've come across in my world travelers. The organization is no frills, putting all its money towards those its intended for and little towards themselves. They are constantly listening to the people's needs and testing new programs. I worked on several projects in my several weeks volunteering -- from preparing the biosand water filters, to prepping a self-sustaining mushroom operation, and then into the rural areas to drill wells. I was able to see first-hand the community's appreciation of the gift of fresh water. Best yet, the organization provides stable employment for locals, and everyone involved is friendly and dedicated. I love the sense of community and respect within the organization. An amazing place to volunteer and a great organization to support!
Review from Guidestar
We made a difference installing water filters in rural village homes. I also got involved with planting herbs and vegetables in an experimental garden. The people were nice and it was a good way to spend my holiday and make good use of my time.
Having visited Cambodia before, when I returned as part of another travel trip, I wanted to give something back to the country and came across Trailblazers. It's a wonderful charity that ploughs all it's donations into providing clean water and developing sustainabity for the most in need communities in the country. They are very innovative in their ideas from bio-sand filters, to test gardens to teach others and encouraging small business ideas. The team are friendly, committed and really keep their goal in mind. From a volunteering perspective, they are one of the few in cambodia that don't try to charge huge fees to foreigners to help out - you can turn up, give as much time as you can and know you are helping a great cause. I hope they continue to do well and wish Scott & Chris all the luck in the world for the future.
My Husband and I were on a world trip and wanted to include volunteering as part of our journey. We researched carefully before choosing Trailblazer Foundation. Scott and Chris are inspirational, the dedication they have to changing lives is immeasurable, the difference they've made is astonishing. We consider the time spent at Trailblazer to be the most rewarding of our 9 month journey. We made water filters, then delivered them to remote villages and saw first hand the difference Trailblazer Foundation are making to wonderful people in desperate need. We learned a great deal while we were there, about both the problems facing locals and the solutions. We learned about sustainability and how to help effectively, to achieve long term improvements. Everyone we met there was lovely. The staff and volunteers - the well drilling crew, the people stuffing bags full of mushroom growing medium, the gang sorting gravel for the filters - all lovely. There was alot of laughter and some have become firm friends. Whenever we think about taking another trip (and I hope it will be soon), the starting point is always Siem Reap and Trailblazer!
After graduating University I wanted to travel and give back. Connecting with the Trailblazer family changed my entire experience in Southeast Asia. I felt immediately welcome and was given work in the test garden where I was interested in learning more about organic gardening in Cambodia. My new friend Narem taught me many things and even showed me his favorite lunch spot. This organization is truly walking the talk and making positive impacts on the Siem Reap community. What is particularly impressive is that Scott and Chris are striving to make this Foundation sustainable long-term by empowering and engaging local people to take charge and run as much of the organization as they can. Highly recommended!
Review from Guidestar
I spent a few weeks volunteering for Trailblazer last December and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. It was fantastic to help construct bio-sand water filters and then go out to deliver them to local villages. I believe whole-heartedly in Trailblazer's mission and know from experience that they are making a difference in many impoverished Cambodian's lives. The staff is great too!
Review from Guidestar
Trailblazer Foundation was founded as a tax exempt non-profit in Wyoming, USA April 2004. Trailblazer works in Cambodia, specifically Siem Reap Province, bringing clean water and hope to rural villagers. Since 2005 Trailblazer has provided access to potable water to over 70,000 people through bio-sand water filters that are constructed locally at their work site. A recent study they conducted shows families using a water filter have a larger home, better roof, more livestock, and generally a higher economic status. Trailblazer's implementation method focuses on villager participation and appropriate technologies, which ensures sustainability and success in their projects. Trailblazer also supports women in vocational training opportunities and small business, as well as, education for rural students by constructing government schools and a library. Recently Trailblazer has established an agriculture program to help rural farmers increase crop production through a low tech drip irrigation system, whereby providing additional income securities. They employ Cambodians and have 11 staff in their Siem Reap office.