My experience volunteering in Cambodia began in Siem Reap with Culture Week before I went on to the Medical Aid project. I met two lovely young girls right at the beginning who were to embark on this volunteer journey with me. We got to know each other really well during those first days in Siem Reap, being whisked around in our own private tuktuk.
Then it was off to our volunteer village Samraong! As none of the Cambodians we met knew of Samraong, we didn’t know what to expect. What we were presented with when we arrived was a gorgeous little market, friendly children playing in the streets and the friendliest homestay experience one could imagine! Imagine living in a house not only with your new-made friends, but a welcoming and friendly Cambodian family. The food was delicious, and our coordinator was very supportive.
We were lucky enough to join an end of year party at the local school on the last day of our culture week in Samraong. The school is an incredible place, and for a second it made me wonder if I had chosen the wrong volunteer position by picking the hospital!
For the weekend, the other volunteers and I returned to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat, before returning again on Monday to begin our placements. The hospital was very confronting, and with only limited medical experience, I felt out of my depth. However, the hospital staff, despite their limited English, were helpful and just as excited to learn from us as we were from them! We taught them how to use their EEG machine and defibrillator. It seems almost unthinkable that these machines could be possessed and yet not used due to lack of knowledge. This was extremely rewarding for us to be a part of.
I left Samraong with tears in my eyes at saying goodbye to the friends I had made, and while still mentally processing all that I had seen in the hospital, I knew I had just had an experience I would forever treasure. I couldn’t recommend it more highly!