I spent two weeks (I know, definitely too short) in a day care center in Phnom Penh in Cambodia thanks to Iko Poran association. And it was such a wonderful experience!
I took care of a class of 7 children (5-6years old) from 9:00a.m to 4:00 p.m, from Monday to Friday. Sometimes I picked them up in their shanty towns at 8 a.m with the staff. It was very hard and sad to see where they live and in such poor conditions, but it was part of the experience and I simply loved their face, their excitation when the association bus (that we used to pick them up at Home) arrived in front of their living place (we can’t call it “a house”).
When they arrive at the day Care center around 9 a.m, they sing and pray with a Kmer teacher. This was so cute to see them so happy to be there and to take pleasure to sing and pray (even if they lost sometimes their concentration rapidly when they saw the volunteers next to them and they guessed that they will play games after ahah).
After that, it was “shower time” for all children. So we had to make them take a shower, put soap on their body, shampoo on their haïr, and dress them up with the association “uniform” (too cute).
Then, I taught them English until lunch time (around 11 a.m). As school facilities, I had a board, some books, pens, and thats it. I regretted not to have brought with me school support for the class when I see how much they were happy to learn. Some days, when they were very excited, I had time to do some games (often drawings) after the lesson and before the lunch time. When they ate, I helped to clean the dishes, and other little tasks to help the staff. From noon to 2p.m, it was rest time for children, so we could take our lunch break and even also take a nap ahah. When they woke up, we make them take a new shower, before starting the afternoon games. I was completely free to choose wich games I wanted to do with them. They loved dancing (I learned them how to dance Macarena, it was so funny), but they were satisfied whatever the game was. Sometimes I made them watch some Disney videos on my phone (like Frozen, or Mickey) and they became focused and quiet during a short moment which allowed me to recover from the dancing time !
Sometimes, and this was amazing, they were asking from more homework during the afternoon. They were so proud to have their own little notebook to make their exercices (write letters, numbers, some words) ! They contented themselves with almost nothing, and it was enough to make them glad.
At the end of the day (4 p.m) the bus dropped them at Home.
Finally, the days were extremely short, and I didnt see how fastly the time went by.
This experience was incredible for so many reasons !
First, to take care of children who really need attention, kindness, affection. They were so happy to see that we really paid attention to them, we contragulated them.
Secondly, I loved teaching them English, and see how much they tried to improve and make you proud of them. I will particularly remember one child,because he was extremely smart, fast, and he loved learning.
Then, the staff team was wonderful, always asking you if everything was fine, and they were awsome with the kids.
Finally, its the kind of experience wich makes you feel really useful, and wich makes you aware how much they need support, even if its just to play with them and make them enjoy life.
I definitely Want to Come back next year!
I completely recommend the program, but I advice you to spend at list one month there, two weeks for me was definitely too short.
Thanks to the association, wich organized perfectly the program, and wich was always present when I needed.
Another advice : bring with you games, Books, figurines, balloons ( all ideas you have) as much as possible. I brought some Playmobils one day, one by each, and they were so excited !
Find out more about volunteering in Cambodia and proceed to the application form.
You may also visit the page with all the projects to volunteer in Cambodia on IKPVA’s Homepage.
Read about more volunteer experiences with childcare: