Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy

Cambodia (C18) | View map
PRICE FROM
£154 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
MINIMUM DURATION
2 months

Volunteer physiotherapists and occupational therapists required in Cambodia

  • Physiotherapy and occupational therapy volunteers required
  • Help with land mine victims and the severley disabled
  • Ideal for part qualified or fully qualified therapists
  • An opportunity to volunteer in Phnom Penh and the rural provinces of Cambodia
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Project summary

This project is a well-respected non-government organisation (NGO). They won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for their campaigns to abolish landmines. They specialise in the rehabilitation of disabled Cambodians back into normal life. Some of these people are land mine or polio victims; some have been involved in traffic accidents or suffer from clubfoot, tuberculosis, stroke and muscular skeletal conditions.

The three clinics in Cambodia provide prostheses, orthoses, wheelchairs and other mobility devices, as well as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitative services to people with disabilities.

The project also provides community follow up services to guarantee its patients comprehensive care and offers them small business grants in order to assist their income generation.

The Phnom Penh based centre is the largest and provincial sites are situated in Prey Veng and Kratie provinces. You would have the choice of basing yourself in Phnom Penh or the provinces. For many volunteers it has provided a great opportunity to work in rural Cambodia.

The project also runs training programmes so that people with disabilities can learn a useful skill that will allow them to earn a living when they return to their villages. These include learning English, computer skills, art skills, mechanics, making wheelchairs and silk weaving.

Conditions are more basic than the UK but good by Cambodian standards. There is an outside games/sports area, gait analysis area and a Khmer house designed by a therapist and used to demonstrate OT.

A volunteering opportunity suitable for part and fully qualified occupational therapists and physiotherapists

Read Laura’s review of her time as a volunteer occupational therapist

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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All project centres are fully staffed by Cambodian trained physiotherapists and prosthetists/orthotists. However, there are hardly any Cambodian occupational therapists working in Cambodia. In the past ten years the needs of the patients have been changing and the physiotherapy skills required have advanced. In order to manage these needs, further training is required.

Qualified occupational therapists and physiotherapists are needed to support the patients and also to begin teaching skills to local staff. This might involve setting up systems to diagnose patients, carrying out proper treatment, offering them support at home and recording all of this properly. This would be done within a team of young physiotherapists, so you would empower local staff.

Gap year volunteers would assist the physiotherapists and have the opportunity to teach ‘disabled’ sports and games. This is considered to be an important part of the rehabilitation process and also help the staff with their English.

This project provides enormous scope for gap year and career break volunteers interested in volunteering with disabled Cambodians from poor, rural backgrounds.

How you can make a difference

Trained and senior physiotherapists and occupational therapists assist the disabled patients and importantly provide guidance to junior Khmer therapists. Qualified but inexperienced volunteers would be supervised by local staff but provide extra capacity, energy and contemporary knowledge to the project.

Although the project is in part about reducing the workload of local staff, it is also about exchanging new ideas and enhancing the skills of local staff.

What is distinctive about this project:

Health services are few and far between in Cambodia and generally only available for those who can afford them. This is a rare and award winning resource, therefore, offering vocational volunteers an opportunity to develop and practice their specialist skills in an alternative healthcare culture.

Blue Tiger Features:

A lot of volunteers have worked here over the years but there is rarely more than one at a time, so volunteers should be comfortable working independently. Volunteers are often put on a pedestal in Cambodia and expected to get on with things. Hence the requirement for experienced rather than junior professionals, but this also requires cultural understanding and flexibility from a volunteer.

Season:

The project operates all year round, closing for traditional holidays including Khmer New Year celebrations in April.

Languages:

The patients only speak Khmer, however, most of the qualified staff speak English and language barriers are rarely a problem in Phnom Penh.

Experience required:

Unqualified staff can participate, largely observing local trained therapists and helping with patient mobility, disabled sports and teaching English to the staff.

The greater need is for occupational therapists and physios, who would need to have at least one year’s experience, professional references and a criminal record check.

Good to know:

Volunteers working in the Phnom Penh clinic live in the Outreach International volunteer house, which is approximately 30 minutes away, where you can make new friends as you plan your adventures around Cambodia.

Price table

8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks6 months
£1,550£1,850£2,150£2,450£2,950

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, airport transfer, in-country support, welcome meal. 8 hours private tuition in Khmer.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations. Cambodia fees DO NOT include meals or the local transport costs of travelling to your project. Volunteers either cook in the Outreach apartment, or eat in the numerous street stalls, cafes and restaurants. Budget from £5 a day for food. Budget from £5 per day for transport, depending on your preferred mode and destination.

Things to see and do

  • Angkor Wat
  • Toul Sleng Museum
  • Sihanoukville - Beach Resort
  • Street food
Ung Veasnanimol  (Nimol)

Country co-ordinator

Ung Veasnanimol (Nimol)

Nimol has enjoyed looking after volunteers at one of our orphanage projects in Phnom Penh since 2004. In 2013 we were delighted when she accepted the position of Cambodia coordinator for volunteers on all of our projects. She is a foster mother to 6 children, retains an administrative position at the orphanage and is also studying a Bachelors Degree in International Relations.

About Cambodia