Special Needs Volunteer in Phnom Penh

Cambodia (C21) | View map
£154 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
2 months

Special needs volunteer required for a school in Cambodia

  • Special needs volunteer to work with children and young adults in Phnom Penh
  • Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and art therapists are all required
  • Provide therapies and help train local staff on contemporary practice, building valuable skills in the local community
  • Opportunity for gap year volunteers with a serious interest in working with children with special needs
  • Special needs volunteer 1
  • Special needs volunteer 2
  • Special needs volunteer 3
  • Special needs volunteer 4

Project summary

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:

  1. Rehabilitation – an increasing and important part of their work is vocational job training
  2. Education – delivering the national curriculum where possible
  3. Capacity Building – providing teacher training in the community schools

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.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

Special needs volunteer 1

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.

How you can make a difference

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.

What is distinctive about this project

This was the first project dealing with intellectual disabilities in Cambodia and to our knowledge remains the only one of its kind in Phnom Penh. It is well managed, working to a clear mission and offers volunteers the opportunity to build their vocational experience in the fascinating setting of Cambodia.

Blue Tiger Features

The professional nature of this project means it is not inundated with volunteers and so you should expect to take a mature, independent approach to your volunteering experience, whether as a specialist therapist or a gap year volunteer with an interest in special needs.

The working conditions are good and the support you will receive from staff will be excellent and in return they will naturally expect you to be a hard-working committed volunteer!


The school closes for certain holiday periods which are always confirmed at time of booking


English is spoken by the Project Director and most of the staff, including the English volunteer program manager. Basic English is also spoken by the children to a varying degree

Experience required

Qualified therapists and those with experience in working with children with special needs are most required. Less experienced volunteers are accepted if they are prepared to commit to a longer volunteer term.

Volunteers who have general office and commercial skills that could help with the development of the project are also sought.

Good to know

This is an established project working with good governance and procedures. It requires volunteers to commit to a 3 month minimum term, so they are assured of getting benefit from any volunteer they invest time in, inducting and training. A mature and reasonable approach.

Price table

12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks6 months

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 £5 a day for food. Budget £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