Volunteers on the Smiling Gecko Campus
They are one of the main pillars of Smiling Gecko in Cambodia: the European specialists who come to our campus regularly as volunteers for a few months to use their knowledge to advance our ambitious projects. Not only are our local employees trained, they also gain from this experience for their own lives.
Daniela, Noah, Bilal, Lukas, Dario and Rafael are currently on campus. They are between 23 and 39 years old and work in carpentry, are site managers, bakers, butcher specialists or aspiring agronomists. At first glance, a thoroughly heterogeneous little group. But there is something that connects them all: They come to us because they find a really meaningful job on campus and in working with the locals. An experience of infinite value for future professional life and probably also for personal development. Because working for us is demanding. Very challenging.
First, there are the climatic conditions. With daytime temperatures quickly exceeding 35°C, one or the other of us would certainly like to spend the whole day at the saltwater pool of the Farmhouse Resort. Instead, our volunteers spend at least eight hours five days a week in the heat of the bakery, in fields with no shade or on the construction site of the middle school and the House of Culture and Music.
Then there is the location of the campus: although there is a jogging track on campus and bicycles for trips in the immediate vicinity, it is about ninety minutes to get to Phnom Penh even by car. There is no public transport. If you want to go into the city, you can only do so at the weekend, when we organize a transport service to the center of the capital for our volunteers.
The greatest challenge, however, is definitely communicating with the local teams: because even if we enable our local employees to take English lessons, they primarily speak their Cambodian mother tongue, Khmer. And it’s often the same with reading and writing. With a few exceptions, direct communication is therefore rather difficult. Or does it have to be done with hand and foot, which in a professional context requires at least a certain adjustment phase for our volunteers. Incidentally, the latter is also one of the main reasons why an assignment on campus should last at least six months. Otherwise, the effort for both sides simply does not pay off.
Speaking of expenses: Anyone who has decided to get involved with Smiling Gecko will, of course, be reimbursed for their travel expenses and receive a flat rate for the continuation of their health and pension insurance. In addition, we assume all expenses for board and lodging. Depending on your personal situation, the latter takes place in air-conditioned single or family accommodation directly on our campus. Just a stone’s throw away from the workplaces and the canteen, where there is always something good to eat. Here, as everywhere else on the complex, our volunteers feel the gratitude of the local employees, who are so dependent on the support and therefore appreciate it so infinitely.
More information about the possibilities of employment at Smiling Gecko in Cambodia can be found here.