I was living in Shanghai and preparing to move back to the US. Before repatriating, I really wanted to volunteer at a nonprofit that was doing good in this world in a place that really needed it. A friend of mine lived in Cambodia for 6 months, working for Angkor Hospital for Children, so trusted her recommendation for credible nonprofits, and JWOC was at the top of her list.
David, the Education and Volunteer Manager was very responsive when receiving my inquiry. Highly professional, David was extremely informative - orienting me to JWOC and the programs which I would be working on, and provided recommendations on living accommodations and general FYI’s as a first time visitor to Cambodia.
During my volunteer experience, JWOC was in transition with staff and within their community outreach and training programs, so I believe I came at a great time to help make an impactful change. My focus for the month would be in reshaping their Health & Nutrition Training and Positive Parenting programs. Kneath, the Managing Director is a great leader and was very supportive/ open to some of my program development recommendations.
One thing I love about traveling is simply the people you meet along the way and their life stories - I got to know several of the scholarship student recipients, who were either teachers for the JWOC free classes/ part of the Community Support team, and it was so incredible to learn about their aspirations. Every child attending free classes and programs offered at JWOC had such a light in their eyes, and an eagerness to learn. The villiagers I met that signed up for Home Gardens training (farming crops and composting) also seemed so happy to come together as a community to learn and grow together.
Whether it was doing research online, or hanging out in the library reading and playing educational games with the children who attend JWOC programs, it was all such a joy! Firsthand helping promote creativity in Cambodia’s youth during Sunday Art Classes and joining staff out in the village to help facilitate training on farming crops and composting was also very fruitful and rewarding.
It was a privilege to work with such wonderful people and be a part of something bigger than me. If you are looking for a great non-profit to volunteer at, get in touch with my friends at JWOC and see where they might be able to leverage your skills/ experience.
Thank you, JWOC for the opportunity to serve the Siem Reap community with you!
I am a volunteer, a donor and an ardent supporter of JWOC (Journeys Within Our Community). There are a hundred stories I could tell you about JWOC but, to keep it simple, here is just one.
I was volunteering as an English teacher with JWOC and another charity. I taught two classes at JWOC and then went (on the back of a taxi motorbike) to the other location. One day, after class I stopped and spoke to a student. I said, “You must be keen. You cycled on a push bike from JWOC to here. You attended three English classes!”
“No,” he said, “I attend four classes. I go to a Japanese class before the English classes.”
A friend who lives in Cambodia put this in context. He said, “There is nothing you can donate that is more valuable than your time. Someone who learns to speak a bit of English is much more likely to be able to find a job. And that is what every Cambodian wants more than anything.”
When I first started volunteering I worried that maybe we were being a bit paternalistic but then I was reminded that almost every educated person in Cambodia died in the scourges between 1975 and 1979, including almost all teachers, doctors, nurses, etc., I realise that there is still such a shortage of educators, and so every little bit helps - and is enormously appreciated.
In fact we are made to feel SO appreciated that sometimes I think we are the ones who benefit the most and I feel a bit guilty.
Because JWOC realises the importance of education, they find donors to fund scholarships to help poor but bright students go to university. What I really like about this scheme is that the scholarship students are asked to give back something to the community. Many choose to teach free English classes. You would need to visit these classes to see the extent to which they are appreciated.
I could go on for hours telling you good stories about what happens at JWOC but perhaps, in the interests of brevity, I should stop here.
I had a wonderful time working with JWOC. The charity is incredibly well run and organised, and has a incredibly integrated system, so that each area of the charity supports and benefits all of the other areas. It is sustainable, engaged, and responsive, catering well to the needs of those it seeks to support. I worked helping to run a summer activities programme, and found the task enormously rewarding and enjoyable. The charity's aims, for itself and its volunteers, are admirable and achievable.