Monday, 5 November 2007

Diary from KV Orphanage Volunteer

The days keep vanishing, the weeks melting the months evaporating. “Soon your year will be over” everyone kept commenting. As a calendar year, yes that may be true, but as a year that will live so closely to my heart and bear down on my decisions throughout life, it had only just begun. I really can’t believe how fast my time here has gone - thinking of going home feels like a world away. Writing this has brought feelings of leaving and how scared I am to go.

The children mean so much to me, they are my family and not only am I their teacher, their sister their mum I am also their friend. It’s going to be so tough walking out the gates for the last time. Thinking about looking back and seeing the kids and nannies brings me to tears.

Many people comment on how proud they are of me, but I feel like it’s such a simple thing to do. I love people, helping out and hey I get nice weather. But now as my flight looms closer I realise how many challenges I have faced. Any things I wish I never have to experience again and many I never want to end.

My role has developed so much this year - I gained great amounts of responsibility. I found myself in charge of the monthly expenditure for the orphanage, paying the bills and filling in reports. Where my role developed most is on the medical side of life.

In the beginning another girl and I shared a room, our room was a little way from the kid’s house and on many occasions I'd be woken up throughout the night with sick kids or problems. It became easier for me and the nannies to sleep alongside the children. So I slept on the floor with the nannies next to the cots - during the day the mosquito nets came down and it became a play area, by making this move

I became more involved with the lives of all the children and nannies. Many nights were spent talking late into the night with nannies. I picked up a lot of the language this way and made amazing friends, although most importantly, I was on hand for any medical issues. Looking back now I realise that I have saved lives - it’s hard to grasp and believe because I feel so young and I suppose I thought that, at nineteen, you can’t do things like that. I guess it’s hard to admit that there are problems the world over that can be prevented so simply.

My year has been amazing and I have learnt so much, yes I have had tough days. Witnessing death in children so young, knowing that in another country these things would not be allowed to happen was hard and often brought anger, but I had to come to realise that there sometimes was nothing else I could do.

For every sad moment there’s a million amazing moments. Like when the weight of an extremely malnourished child begins to rise every week, after months of struggling to get her to eat properly. Or when a weak boy of three with a hole in the heart gains enough strength to walk and laugh. Or when I’ve sat up all night with a child that is extremely dehydrated due to vomiting and diarrhoea and also has a fever of 42c manages to keep something down and starts regaining health. Or when I meet my students in the market and they can hold a whole conversation with me in English. I can see their parents eyes light up as it means their child might make it out of the wooden shack and get a proper paid job. And I smile so proud because my student no matter how much trouble they’d caused in class had after all been listening.

I came to Cambodia knowing only that I'd be living in an orphanage and teaching in a school. I taught classes of 50 children geography, English, Maths, Arts and Sports and most importantly, Hygiene. My role developed so much in so many different ways but it always came back to teaching and learning. Just as much as I am teaching I am learning. I’ve gained great friends and earned respect in my village, becoming a local in the rural Cambodian village which has become my home.

I don’t know how to thank everyone so much who contributed in any way to sending me to Cambodia.

Akon Chran - Thank you very much

Project Trust Volunteer

If you are interested in volunteering in Cambodia or elsewhere, contact Project Trust at or go to


Anonymous said...


Just to say Thank you to Esme from the entire Taunton School World Challenge team who spent only a week in the orphanage, a mere blip by comparison. Both Debbie and Esme were very kind to us and we had a fantastic time. I know in particular some found Esmes challenge of a year there inspirational and wish to go back to do the same.


Emma Galloway said...

Hi, the project you are doing sounds amazing!
I am hopefully going to Cambodia in August wih project Trust, and was wondering if you could give me any more information or just general things you have done.
Reading your entry has got me very excited about my year away!!
Emma Galloway
PT Volunteer

The Cambodian Children’s Charity said...

Hi Emma - please send an e-mail to and I will send some information