ELI Header Image ELI Header Image

Work with Disabled Children in Phnom Penh

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience


  • Program Administration


  • Living Situation


  • Community Impact


  • Health and Safety


  • Social Life


Cambodia; you've stolen my heart <3

I volunteered at the National Borei for Infants & Children (NBIC) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for 2 weeks. It was an absolutely amazing and life-changing experience. While i was there I was literally fulfilling a dream that i've had for a very long time. Ever since i was younger, i have wanted to use my career (physiotherapy) to help those in need, in particular- children in less fortunate countries like Cambodia. During my stay, a number of unexpected things happened. For one, I did not expect to get attached to the kids at NBIC so quickly, I miss them more and more everyday. The poverty in Cambodia was not an eye-opener for me as I was aware of it beforehand but seeing the bright smiles and determination on the children's faces is what truly made me happy. I also did not expect to fall in love with the country itself. Cambodia is such a beautiful country, from its temples to its paradise-like beaches to the friendly & helpful locals, it's a magical place that puts a spell on you. It's hard to explain unless you've been there.

The housing was very homely and allowed us to experience the local vibe. The rooms were clean and we were provided with hot showers and air conditioning (a luxury that most other volunteers did not have). The food at the housing was also good with a mixture of asian and western cuisine. Phnom Penh is such a wonderful city with so much to do and see, from $5 massages to amazing restaurants such as 'Friends', to the royal palace and the killing fields.

NBIC was a wonderful place to volunteer at as a physiotherapy student because there is a separate physiotherapy room where you can work with other physiotherapists and volunteers. Physiotherapy would begin at 8am each morning and finish at 4pm in the evening, with children coming in and out throughout the day. Majority of the children had cerebral palsy and a few had autism, epilepsy, down syndrome and some were HIV positive. The good thing about being in that room was that we got to meet and work with a range of different children and were pretty much allowed to treat each child in whatever way we wanted to. Of course the physiotherapists would guide and help us but it was good because we were able to be creative with our treatments. It was great to implement the knowledge i had learnt at university and put it into practice. Physiotherapy for the children would range from manual therapy (mobilising, stretching and massage) to working on their sitting balance, gait, fine motor control and cognitive skills. We would have to come up with different ways to treat the kids but keep them entertained at the time by playing games and singing songs during our physio sessions. This made it challenging yet rewarding when we could see improvements in the children's skills. At lunch time, we would help the other volunteers feed the children which was always fun. On my last day of volunteering, we took the children to Dreamland- a theme park in Phnom Penh where we went on a number of rides and had lunch at the theme park. It was a great day out for both the volunteers and the children!

The only slight downside was that there was an overload of volunteers (who would have thought) at the orphanage as there were many volunteers from other organisations-to the point where there wasn't enough things for some of the volunteers to do and the child; volunteer ratio was 1:1 in some rooms. Other than that, the placement was amazing and I would definitely recommend volunteering for much longer than 2 weeks if you have the time and money. In particular with physiotherapy as you are more likely to see changes in the children's physical abilities.

On the weekends we would go to different parts of Cambodia. During the first weekend we went to Siem Reap and visited the ancient temples and floating village. After volunteering we travelled to Koh Kong, Sihanoukville and Koh Rong Island which was just as beautiful. Volunteering at NBIC in Cambodia was so amazing and I would go back to volunteer there in a heart beat. The memories I created in Cambodia and the children at NBIC will always remain with me. Volunteering abroad is the best way to see a country for its true beauty.