Challenges of GMTP in Cambodia Cambodia Blog 13

January 20, 2015

Working as a volunteer in foreign country is never going to be easy. The language, the culture, the politics, all make it hard for an outside person to come in and do effective work.

The telecommunications networks are in some ways a poor comparison to home. Yet all the bars, restaurants and hotels here in Phnom Penh appear to have their own wi fi. This of course will not be true in the provinces or other more rural parts of the country.  The mobile phone network appears good in the city but again how this might work in other areas is not clear.  This reminds me of some of the black spots in Somerset where mobile signal is also very intermittent.


We have also suffered some recent power cuts which is really infuriating when you are in the middle of creating a document. Advice.  Save, save, save as you go.

We have been lucky in that our hotel is absolutely lovely. It has become apparent how Rest and Recreation is indeed part of the job. Without it the frustrations would become enormous.  Might I say the local reflexology, manicure and pedicure treatments have helped to keep the sanity of a Brit away from home.

The sheer size of the work to be done can be extremely overwhelming.  Everyone in our team has hit the wall during our time here. Having families at home can be an extra stress.  You then have to re-group, discuss the options and agree what it is you can do in the time left.  Having excellent team members is essential.

Our particular team has laughed so much while we have been in Kingdom. Directions to the “big one” to a tuc tuc driver by Pippa will be a major memory.  Paula’s rolling eyes have said it all at times and made Pippa and I roar. I have personally nearly made a friend pay more for her tuc tuc by getting involved in the price bartering.  Luckily she was a strong woman and stuck at two dollars despite me suggesting three and the driver wanting my price!!!!


We have shared beauty products, washing liquid, fruit, biscuits, money, especially when someone kept putting their purse in the safe in the hotel and forgetting to bring out with her.

We have had great support from our translators Monay and LIoung.  We took them on a trip to the dolphins in Kratie with us.  It is a memory we all will not forget. It is important, very important,to say thank you.

Oh and thankfully the temperature has not been too hot. Pippa has been here in June and describes extraordinary weather with high humidity.  There is air conditioning, but of course not outside. Paula and I sported very natty sun hats as we walked about. Again essential if the sun gets to you.  The pool at the hotel has been a godsend.

Of course the toilets are not the same as home and you just have to literally go with the flow.  We are all human beings and going to the loo is an essential part of life. We have had some interesting experiences especially when out in the more rural areas. But we have also been able to access some fantastic facilities in modern hotels, restaurants and apartment blocks.  It is not all bad.

The work picture keeps changing of course, whilst you are in Kingdom. Volunteers have to be very flexible and polite when being asked to re-do or add to things you think have been completed.  The demands  even change from home some times, dependent upon how the project is going.  Often  the picture changes for our contacts here too and you just have to be prepared to look at it again in the light of the new information.

We have made a few connections with organisations personally I had never heard of before.  Non- government organisations (NGO’s) that have been doing work in Cambodia for many years. We are here for such a short time.  It is important to add value, not to take away from work already done.

Lastly, work in Kingdom would not be possible without a really excellent contact. We have been working with Madam Chea ath the President of the Cambodian Midwives Association and we have been lucky. She has got to know us all and has become very concerned about our wellbeing. She asks about the others if they are not present in front of her.

We were very lucky to share a long five hour trip to Kratie. We travelled there and back in a very confined vehicle, on a very bumpy road, containing six of us. Let us say, it has made the experience by helping us create the relationships that I am sure will endure beyond the trip.

Cambodia Jan 2015 042Cambodia Jan 2015 197


One Response to “Challenges of GMTP in Cambodia Cambodia Blog 13”

  1. Joy Kemp Says:

    lovely reflections

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