Cambodia is quickly becoming one of the best places on earth for tourist to go. With its warm climate, ancient and mysterious past, and beautiful beaches and waters, this is a beautiful place that virtually any vacation or would enjoy. It is one of those places that will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
What many people don’t realize is that there is a lot of things to do and Cambodia other than just vacation. This is a nation that has had a dark past, ruled by a horrific dictatorship that killed and repressed as citizens for decades. Now they are trying to rise up from the aftermath of the calamities they have faced, and to build a country that is truly modern, where its citizens are well educated. They are on the right track to this kind of success, but to do so they have needed the assistance of those who were willing to come to Cambodia and share their knowledge and insights to assist the people in their growth.
Each year thousands of volunteers come to Cambodia, not only to assist the people, but also to help in the protection and preservation of many of the species of animals, plants, and insects in this country. Ream National Park, a wildlife preserve in Cambodia, is home to the largest number of the species of animals on earth, and the government is dedicated to ensuring that these animals remain protected, allowing them to thrive.
It is opportunities like these that has led many to decide to come to Cambodia to help in seeing this country thrive and prosper. They want to help make a difference in this country and to help protect the natural beauty of this great land.
While the need is great all over Cambodia, it is areas like KohRong and KohRongSamloem Islands that really need assistance. Many of the people of these islands know nothing more than fishing, as this has been an isolated area of the country for generations. The rise of tourism in the nature preserve, as well as the desire of many environmentalists to protect the threatened and endangered species of wildlife has made this an area that needs greater volunteer assistance.
Fortunately, there have been many that have felt called to come to this area and assist. They have seen the need and are willing to take time out to make sure that they are making a difference. The opportunities are great, and here are but a few of them.
Assisting in Educating the Young
Just a decade ago, most of the people of these two islands had very limited contact with people from the outside world. The mainland of Sihanoukville was just embracing tourism, but people really only came to the islands that are in Ream National Park for the day, then went back to the mainland.
In the last decade small tourist resorts have been opening up on each of these islands, and the people are coming in greater contact with those who are vacationing on the two sister islands. This is a great boon for the country, but for many of these people who live in the small villages here, they are facing a world that has grown past them by leaps and bounds. It is no longer workable to just know how to fish, especially as the need grows to have a bigger labor force to work in tourism.
Most of the people who work for the resorts on these islands or who work in tourism have to be brought in from the mainland. The companies would like indigenous people to be more involved, considering it would save them money, but the people, especially the younger ones do not have the requisite skills to be able to assist. This is where the volunteers come in.
Many have seen the need to help these people to learn and be able to function in the new culture of Cambodia. They are not only teaching basic skills, such as math, reading, and writing, but are also assisting in helping them to learn new languages and to be able to better join the technological age we live in.
Sadly, the need for these volunteers is not limited to just these two islands. Many in Cambodia are behind in their education, especially the youth, because the previous dictatorship limited the educational opportunities for its citizens. Volunteers are needed to help improve the standard of education so all of Cambodia can succeed.
It should be noted that there are many programs that will pay men and women to come to Cambodia and teach the youth such skills as writing, reading, English, computers, and math. They only pay a small salary, usually less than $300 every two weeks, but they also provide accommodations to those who wish to come and aid, and they will pay to get you from your home country and back home after your time is done.
The only requirement for such programs is that you have a desire to make a difference. If you are 17 or older they can use your skills and expertise to come and help make a difference in the lives of these young boys and girls. You do not need a degree, and can commit as little as six months time to come and assist. This is a chance to learn about a new culture while also making a real difference in the lives of young minds that are trying to learn more about what it takes to be a success in this global economy.
Improving the Living Conditions
Education is a serious issue, especially on the islands, but so is the overall standard of conditions that many live in. Despite being surrounded by a large body of water, namely the Gulf of Thailand, finding drinking water is not always an easy venture. Volunteers have helped to build tanks to store water for drinking, but more work is needed.
There are other areas where assistance is needed. Health care is poor at best, and the people are in need of learning not only how to better care for themselves, but to care for each other as well.
Bathrooms are a new innovation in many villages, and this is important as a means of keeping the water clean and disease contained. Human feces is one of the most common causes of infection and disease, and so ensuring a quality sanitation system is in place is essential. Even with tourist resorts popping up on and around the islands, this is still an issue.
The opening of tourist resorts on the island has helped to greatly improve the quality of health care on the two islands. Some of the indigenous people work as cooks or cleaners in the resorts, and are required to be in optimal health, not only for the protection of visitors, but also for protection from visitors. Each country has its own set of viruses and bacteria that are not a concern where they live, but history has shown that when people come from a long distance away and interact with persons who have not had contact with those diseases, catastrophe is certain to arise.
To avoid this issue, the best of health care is starting to be provided to ensure the safety of all who come to visit. However, there is always a need for volunteers to help man the clinics and to assist in teaching the people about illness and its care.
Protecting the Wildlife in the Nature Preserve
Prior to KohRong becoming a tourist island, many came to the island to illegally cut down the trees that once grew so densely there. This has reduced the health of the forest area of the island, and has led the government to push hard to ensure that its natural wonders are properly cared for and protecting.
As mentioned, Ream National Park has the largest number of endangered and threatened species of plants, animals, and insects on earth, and if they are not properly cared for the risk of extinction is a real concern. These people creatures could be lost forever, and there would be no turning back the clock to restore what has been lost.
Many biologists and conservations have come from all over the world to protect the different species of wildlife living on the two sister islands, as well as in the waters that surround the islands, and in Ream National Park. The objective is not only to protect these animals from extinction, but also to assist them to thrive and to hopefully, one day, get off of these lists.
This is becoming an ever increasing challenge because there is a strong desire in the country to increase the number of islands in the park that can have resorts and hotels, as well as to increase tourist capacity on KohRong Island and KohRongSamloem Island. While the government is concerned with protecting its wildlife, it also realizes the need to be a more prosperous nation. This will benefit the citizens, but may not help species of animals and plants that are hanging on by a thread.
The task of these biologists and other volunteers is to find a way to assist these plants, animals, and insects to survive in their natural habitat while a blossoming tourist trade is building up around it. This has led to specific areas being cordoned off to protect certain species of animals and plants, but it has also led to an effort to more greatly educate visitors on what is at stake here.
Many of the volunteers work with those who are on tours of the islands, explaining to them the need to protect the wildlife that is here. They not only want to do the job of helping these species to thrive, but they want the whole world to play a part in taking responsibility for these plants and animals. The more that seek to make a difference the easier the job will be.
One animal that is the focus of the biologists is the seahorse. These are such a beautiful sea creature, yet they are threatened because of boat traffic, predators, and the fishing industry. These volunteers are working to protect this species and to monitor how well they are doing. They also actively patrol the area to keep those who are involved in illegal activities from doing even greater harm to the population. It is a lot of work that requires a lot of vigilant people. More volunteers can really make a difference in helping these animals.
The coral reefs are another area that is threatened. For centuries the primary traffic that traveled past the islands was just small fishing boats, often propelled by oars. Now large tourist boats jet through the water, and water taxis hug the shore line to take tourists and visitors from one place on an island to another. These reefs are finding themselves in greater peril as a resort, which means that the sealife that uses the reefs as a home and a place to hunt is also at risk. Volunteers are needed to continually monitor the coral reefs and to aid in protecting them from the dangers that are affecting them. It is truly a rewarding opportunity to really make a difference.
The water is one of the toughest areas to control because there are so many factors that can play a part in harming these animals as well as others. Change in currents, weather patterns, climate, acidity, and other factors can greatly alter how well sea life can do. Then there are manmade problems like spills and waste. All of this is harming the Gulf of Thailand and making it so that the whole gulf is at risk.
While all volunteers are coveted to assist in the cause, those who are experts at swimming and scuba diving are especially vital. They can greatly assist in the monitoring and data recording.