During the past years, volunteers at S.C.A.O. I have been staying and sleeping in the S.C.A.O. Center. Since the beginning of July, S.C.A.O. has opened a volunteer house, about a 10 minute bicycle-ride away from the school. This change happened due to two main reasons.
Firstly, living in the Center was a great opportunity to get an insight in the every-day life of a Cambodian family and get to know the kids who live there. Also, this meant building up a relationship with kids, playing and laughing with them. On one hand, volunteers have to bear in mind that this is a short-term relationship, as their departure date is already marked on the calendar. On the other hand, for kids having such a short-time relationships is not so easy. By the time they have started to really like someone, volunteers are about to leave already. Therefore, to prevent kids from going through these emotional ups and downs caused by short-term relationships and repeatedly getting used to new people and saying goodbye the next week, kids now have the Center more or less as their private space.
Secondly, S.C.A.O. is developing. S.C.A.O. has a greater number of volunteers and we have seen the new Volunteer House as a great opportunity to take a step towards the next level. The house is modern and large and gives the volunteers the opportunity to create a real volunteer community while living together, cooking together, or going to the local market, which is just a five minute walk. Moreover, it offers the opportunity to get some extra quiet hours, taking a break after teaching in the heat, surrounded by dozens of children.
Here a comment from our current volunteer Caspar, who is living at the new house:
“Staying at the Volunteer house”
Staying at the volunteer house is both a fun and stimulating experience. There is a great community spirit among the volunteers and the members of the S.C.A.O. family really make this place feel homely. There is a shop across the street where you can get snacks, drinks and ice cream and a coffee place just down the road where you can relax during the hot midday hours. Each room has its own bathroom with a shower and toilet attached and the house also features a kitchen, a large living room and a nice balcony where you can catch a cool refreshing breeze after a long day of teaching. The S.C.A.O. school and centre are about 7-10 minutes away by bike.
About 5 minutes up the road is one of the main roads into Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s vibrant capital. For a few dollars, you’ll always find a Moto or TukTuk that will take you into Phnom Penh in less than 20 minutes where you can have a nice meal in a restaurant and take a stroll through the Russian or Central market during your lunch break. If your schedule allows it, you might even be able to visit the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda, Cambodia’s National Museum or visit the former S21 prison. You can also stay in at the house during the weekend but most volunteers prefer the option of staying in Phnom Penh to go sightseeing, shopping and enjoy a cool drink at a rooftop bar. Alternatively, you can organize a trip to another city like Siem Reap or SinoukVille along with the volunteers from the second school, S.C.A.O. II.
No matter what you decide to do, you will always find someone to do it with and the people you’ll meet here at the school and at the volunteer house will make volunteering with S.C.A.O. an experience you won’t forget.