Volunteers' stories

  • Elettra's experience of the Khmer smile

    "Battambang is my home since the 21st of February 2019, since when I landed in Cambodia. The first thing that impressed me, after the endless expanses, was the Smile of the people. We live thousands of km away from home, but the positive vibes that we get from a smile is worldwide. 

    I am living my EU Aid experience at PharePonleuSelpak (The Brightness of the Art), a non-profit Cambodian association improving the lives of children, young adults, and their families with art schools, educational programs, and social support since 1994. Phare Ponleu Selpak, or PPS, has two important schools: the graphic design and the performance school (dance, music, theatre and circus). They believe in the power of the art as a tool for human development and social change, for this reason the circus events are always based on Khmer history and tradition, to not forget. 

    My day starts with a long ride with my bicycle up to work and there, colleagues, greet me with a big smile in their face. No matter if it is raining, if the heat is unbearable or if there is no electricity, the smile is one of the main reason to get up and come to work." 

  • Jenny and her "koritsia"!
    "I am a senior accountant in the Finance department of five girls known asPhanat, Kanha, Pheng, Kimly and Samdy. I call them my KORITSIA (girls inGreek) and they call me OUN (younger sister in Khmer). We concluded that evenif I am the oldest in our team, they cannot call me Bong (oldest sister), not evenout of respect, because they believe in many lives after death, so I am just 40and each of them is probably above 6 hundred or even 1 thousand years oldalready after summing up their previous lives. Everyone agreed that this is fairenough!My Koritsia are my every day Cambodian family.
    We work in a small office with 5 big desks for the tiny, slim, cute girls and a tiny, small, cute desk for my big, proud, tall body! Everything has been totally different and diverse between us. I am loud while they are quiet. I am outspoken and direct but they are impatient,humble and almost shy. I am demanding but they are facile and patient. You might easily think that you will never adapt and most difficulty, you will never achieve to be a true member of their team, but no, this is not the case. All of them are uniquely generous and kind. They bring desserts every day after lunch break for us to eat together, they share personal info and stories and they are really interested to listen your personal life details as well. Furthermore, they are willing to help you with anything you need and most importantly they will never make you feel that you don't belong to their group. We also have internal jokes like "we will die in Cambodia" which we say with every little thing that makes us stress as a team, work related issues and even weather changes."
  • Lucia, Ecuador and "chicha"!

    "One of the most interesting things that this voluntary work and Ecuador have to offer is the opportunity to know the different nationalities and communities that inhabit this beautiful country. This opportunity is even greater as we are working together with the Local Development Department that deals with the relationships between these communities and the council.

    Ecuador has 7 different nationalities (Kichwa, Shiwiar, Achuar, Sapara, Andwa, Waodani and Shuar). On December 4th we had the opportunity to visit Cuya Community, a Kichwa community.

    After 1 hour by car, we arrived at a big hut, which was being started for tourist purposes. We were welcomed by the president of the community and immediately held with a cup of “chicha”.

    That was the first time I heard about “chicha”, a homemade fermented drink made with yuca. All the women in the community made her own “chicha” and offered it to us and of course we drank it (imagine how that could have ended…) as otherwise it would have been considered as rude.

    After trying to getting used to the “chicha”, we were offered lunch. We were offered with the meat that men had hunted the night before. We were told that we were going to have pork for lunch, but suddenly, when the cooker gave me my plate, I saw a very small arm very similar to a monkey´s one…he quickly changed my plate and offered me “real pork”…we will never know what we really ate…

    To conclude our visit, we danced with local people and continue drinking “chicha” until we had to come back to our normal life here in Ecuador."