As a 6/7 month volunteer, I have been at work for a few weeks now -mine is a more intense experience all round I think!! The longer term volunteers in my group, most of whom are doing two years, had a longer language course, a placement week to set themselves up in their house / meet work colleagues and a concluding couple of days of ‘training’ in Phonm Penh this week, though some of them had quite a rush at the end to buy equipment etc for their houses in quite remote areas. It was really nice to meet up with them all again. One of the great things about this VSO experience is getting to know such a varied group of committed volunteers, all here in order to share their skills and knowledge to help with the development of Cambodia and to learn and develop personally from local culture and the challenges of the experience. I went up to Kampong Cham again last week for the motorbike/road safety session (great fun) and then met up with the group again yesterday (Friday) for a final overview session on Education in Cambodia.
In the evening, most of them came down to my place and we drank a few beers and chatted till late. They are all setting off to their placements this week – two to Mondulkiri, one to Rattanakiri, one to Kraje, three to Stung Treing, one to Kampot, one to Battambong and three of us staying here in Phonm Penh – and the accompanying partners also heading upcountry – truly a labour of love! One piece of good news – Andre is recovering now from the accident in Kg Cham and only needs physiotherapy.
I should have taken a couple of photos of the evening but we were too busy chatting!! It was both sad (to see everyone head off, knowing that we have shared a special experience) and inspiring (so much knowledge and enthusiasm which can only come from volunteering) in equal measure. One way or another they will all make a signficant contribution to their specialist field (most are in education), to international understanding and friendship (in Cambodia) and to helping people in their home countries to understand and appreciate the complexity of the world we live in, not least through their blogs.. you can find links to these on Sam and Gilly’s blog, if you want to follow up: http://www.ourvso.com/
One of the strange things of the past week was meeting up with the next batch of volunteers, more of whom are in ‘health’. They came out last Thursday and when I went up to meet them last Friday evening, they all looked zonked!! as we had done on our first full day on Sept 2nd. It was nice, and somewhat alarming, that I was viewed as an expert on all aspects of living in Cambodia after my limited experience! They are now away in Kampong Cham for language training. I hope they will have a great time there.