"Already a couple of years ago I volunteered at Kep Gardens for a month. It's a beautiful place located in the middle of a rural and also poor community, which is at scooter/tuktuk distance from Kep beach (where you also find hostels, restaurants and markets). The project has expanded a bit since I was there, f.e. growing fruits and vegetables, playgarden, also a class with younger kids who come to play.
What I did
When I was there, I taught English to all classes for a week, and the other moments I was involved in individual reading and conversation moments. It was always a lot of fun, and the kids are very sweet! We also did some sport activities with them (the amount of energy!). I can't think of a more direct and useful way to teach the kids English. This creates a chance for them to actually get involved in further education and have a better prospect for themselves and their family.
Beside teaching, we went to the hospital with some classes for a general health check. We also did sport games, and with the older students we had a special team-building day which was a lot of fun! Two older students took us on a day to a beautiful nature area, and some evenings we had dinner with the group of older students in a local Cambodian way.
What I liked about this project is that it’s structured, so you're part of something bigger that will actually have an impact on the kids' education, behavior and way of thinking (actually thinking further than tomorrow). At the same time there is a lot of space for your own ideas. If you are good at something, use it! Sports, music, performances, other skills, you name it! Janine and Andrew are very friendly and dedicated and passionate. It was always nice to be at the project, have dinner with them or sometimes join to weddings (amazing). They create great opportunities for the students to learn English and develop themselves. Also, they support a group of successful students so they can actually attend university.
The culture is quite different from a western culture. Cambodians are very friendly people! They grew up thinking different than we, having different habits and values. We learned a lot about this when talking to Janine, Andres and the the (older) students. It was interesting to learn that things can be so different from your own country.
Of course we had free time as well! There is plenty to do in the weekends. No reason to be bored! You can visit other villages, hike, go to Kep beach or to a close by tropical island to fully relax, rent scooters, eat fresh krab etc. It's a smaller village in a large rural area with plenty communities, which I liked a lot: the real Cambodia experience I would say:) A scooter ride around sunset time is always a great pleasure!
I would definitely recommend this project if you're thinking about volunteering somewhere: you can get to know real Cambodia, do useful work and importantly for yourself: have a great time and learn a lot!
Margo from the Netherlands"