Special needs volunteer required for a school in Cambodia
Special needs volunteers are needed at this special needs school, founded in 1997 as the first NGO dealing with intellectual disabilities in Cambodia. It now supports over 160 disabled children and young adults aged 5 to 25 years. They suffer from autism, cerebral palsy, psychological disorders and other intellectual disabilities.
These individuals would not normally have access to education, in part due to the way disabilities are viewed in Khmer culture, but largely because there is no special needs capability in the community to enable them to integrate with mainstream children.
This project therefore provides a vital lifeline for those it supports across Phnom Penh. The goal is to enable full integration and rehabilitation into Cambodian community life. To achieve this, the project focuses on three areas:
The special needs school has a number of staff trained to support children and adults with intellectual disabilities, but there is a lack of resource generally and volunteers can be of great assistance.
Special needs volunteers with experience in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and art therapy are particularly welcomed, both to support the children directly and to help share their skills with local staff.
Inexperienced volunteers with a specific interest in supporting children and adults with special needs are also welcome, being able to help provide more capacity for supporting the children in particular.
The Director, who speaks perfect English and runs a fantastic, friendly project, would also welcome a volunteer that wants to help with fundraising, communications and marketing, helping to develop the sustainability of the project.
Special needs volunteers are physiotherapists, occupational therapists, art therapists, speech therapists and gap year volunteers with an interest in special needs education are needed to work directly with the children and youths. Your specific activities would be agreed with the local program manager, based on your experience and skill sets.
If you are sufficiently experienced you may be asked to help with the skills training of the local staff as well as providing therapy directly. The facilities are basic but there is plenty of space and large classrooms to work with the children.
If you are a gap year volunteer you would be offered guidance and training by local staff. Gap year students are needed to work with the children as an assistant teacher and provide them with a variety of stimulating activities. It would be perfect for anyone interested in special needs.
A mature volunteer is also needed to help with administration, setting up systems, website development, gathering photos and videos for the website, and importantly writing grant funding proposals, creating a logical system for recording the needs of each child and also raising awareness of special educational needs in Cambodia. In particular help is needed making the school more sustainable and less dependent on its sponsors.
There are relatively few people in Cambodia who are qualified to work with special needs children and young adults, so any volunteer who brings experience can directly improve the level of support offered to children. More important is the potential transfer of knowledge and skills to local staff on the project and in the community schools, helping build the capacity of the project so that you leave a lasting benefit once you return.
The role of unqualified volunteers is to provide support to the staff and children and adults, helping provide more resource and engagement and providing a more caring and productive environment in doing so.
From the palm tree festooned fields of the countryside to the heady two-wheeled traffic of Phnom Penh, Cambodia is intangibly special..., Volunteer in Cambodia