Sonam Sadhnani is a resident of Singapore and works as a Management Support Officer in Ministry of Education, Singapore. In July 2013, Sonam volunteered for 2 weeks in the Orphanage Volunteer Program in Cambodia with Volunteering Solutions. She thoroughly enjoyed her time in Cambodia and in the interview shares her experience with other volunteers.
\Why did you decide to volunteer in Cambodia ?
This is my first time volunteering, let alone travel by myself. That was why I had decided to volunteer somewhere closer to home. In addition, Cambodia has always been a place I've wanted to visit merely due to the fact that the country has indeed come a long way since from its pretty rough past. What better way to experience the country than to be given the opportunity to work with the local people daily.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Having signed up for orphanage work, my main task included walking with the kids to a local learning centre where I was given adequate resources to come up with English lesson plans and conduct English lessons daily. During my course of work, I had taught the kids a little bit about Singapore, the country I have spent my whole life in and other countries I have visited such as Australia and Indonesia. The kids were really receptive especially since most, if not all have never traveled out of Cambodia. My lessons included the teaching of simple nursery rhymes, alphabets and numbers. Our break time was spent watching movies and doing arts and crafts with the kids.
How did you like volunteering in Phnom Penh personally. Tell us a bit more about it.
Phnom Penh is indeed a country to visit. I am definitely going to hold every memory so dear. From the eating of crickets (for the very first time) to the pushing of our tuk tuk which had got stuck in the flood to the cruising around town on motorbikes... These are brand new experiences which I will probably cherish for life. Above everything else, I will definitely miss the smiles of the local people who would often greet us when we were merely travelling in our tuk tuks or just walking around town. I will also really miss the like-minded volunteers who share the same passion of helping to develop a better world and the amazing kids whom I have fallen in love with.
How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?
I have learnt how to be more easy-going and accept that not everything happens as planned. I have earnt how to adapt in a less-comfortable environment. Above everything else, I have learnt how to let my guard down and let people come in- something I was personally struggling a lot with before.
What advise would you give to future volunteers going to Cambodia ?
It is indeed in our nature to procrastinate. Personally, it took me quite a while to confirm my volunteering placement. Looking back, I am indeed happy that I have taken this step and have come back with so many stories to share with my family and friends. There really isn't anything more fulfilling than to see someone smile in appreciation of the time you had rendered to be of service to them. Do also go with an open mind and a good attitude, and be willing to work with just anyone. I'm pretty sure the program will be as amazing as it was for me.