Life Lessons from the Slums: A volunteer’s experience with community outreach in Cambodia

I am currently working for an NGO. So far I’m loving the community outreach work I’m doing. My perspective towards a lot of things have already changed. It’s difficult to explain, but I think I’ve learned and retained more knowledge in this one week than I did in my freshman year math class. Womp womp! [The NGO] has undertaken a number of initiatives to extend their reach, including expanding their programming and partnership with American agencies and providing greater opportunities for families/children of sex workers living in the slums of Phnom Penh.

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I’ve seen things that would be unimaginable in the U.S. and although it really disturbs me, I’ve come to terms that this is the life they know and this is how they live. Nothing I say or do can change that, but what I can do is bring compassion and a sense of joy into their lives; letting them know that even though the government doesn’t do much, some people DO care!
Within this first week we made PowerPoint presentations and trained preteen ages 11-14 girls about Self-Image and Consent.

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Trained teenage boys/young men aged 15- 22 about Condom use and Consent and trained women (all mothers) about Basic First Aid, and immediate action in regards to diarrhea, dehydration and burns.

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I also conducted 15 interviews from various families that live in the slums near the NGO. The very first woman I interviewed hit me the hardest. I honestly start each day of work knowing about 15% of what’s going to happen and end up leaving work learning 20% more than I did when I woke up.

Aiyanna J. Cambodia, Summer 2014

For more information about our programs in Cambodia, please check out our website!

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