During my year as a volunteer abroad, I helped an organization set up Administration and financial systems. Then I left them with no clue of how to use the platform properly and without having a clear understanding of checks and balances in place. I look back now and wonder if they are even going to continue with that. This means, I was not the answer to the organization’s needs. I was not fully integrated into the local context and did not understand their culture, language, and even their needs. After returning home, like most international volunteers, I rarely communicate with the organisation.
Before I volunteered overseas, I studied an associate degree in theology and have been involved with church ministries in different parts of Cambodia. Through these connections and by working in the tourist and development sectors, I have seen many outside volunteers come to my country. Often I have asked myself if they are learning the language. How much do they know about my culture and beliefs? What happens to their work after they return to their home country? If only I could help them in this area.
After I returned from my year volunteering abroad and settled back in the country for a while, I found Rok Kern, which impressed me a lot. Ideally, this program focuses on advocacy and empowering the locals, rather than taking over. To me, this is a chance to challenge participants in short term trips not to create dependency and to try not to provide resources which we cannot find here in the country after they leave. So I can say this program is perfectly designed to help short trip to learn and be aware before volunteering abroad.