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PLF Philosophy

When you become a Ponheary Ly Foundation Volunteer, you become much more than just a volunteer on the ground.  PLF views being a volunteer as an opportunity for individuals and groups to build on, and occasionally supplement, the work of the organization across its many program areas by drawing on the skills and talents of individuals, as well as through spreading the word about us to other people before and after your time on the ground in Cambodia.

The Volunteer program is guided by the following core understandings and objectives:

• Time and energy are precious, both the time and energy of the volunteer and the staff of PLF.  Volunteers work under the direction of PLF local field-workers with the intention of creating a program based on reciprocity and meaningful contribution;

• Volunteers work closely with staff members at PLF to align their interests with the needs of the organization;

• Volunteers must abide by the preconditions for extracurricular and curricular programs outlined by the government of Cambodia. PLF works in public government schools and operating outside of these conditions may jeopardize the work of the organization;

• Volunteers integrate individual projects into existing program sites supported by PLF;

• Volunteers work respectfully and cooperatively with local staff at PLF program sites;

• Cambodia carries with it a degree of unpredictability but also tremendous possibility–volunteers must be self-directed, motivated, and highly adaptable to changes in daily programming.

Ideas we work by and require volunteers to as well:

1.  Why we don’t want you to randomly give things to kids

Foreigners giving things to kids fosters a “something for nothing” syndrome and
forges the link between ‘foreigner’ and ‘free stuff.’ We do not want our students to
become part of the beggar mentality. Foreigners in Cambodia have already created
enough beggars and scams at the Temples and in Pub Street. We do not want to add
to this phenomenon.
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We also like to empower teachers by having them give supplies and prizes to
students. Students should look to their teachers, school and community for what
they need to succeed, not to foreigners.
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So, we like to put “handouts” into a big box in our storage and then bundle them up
into prizes for the monthly English quiz, first & second in class at their three month
break, reading competitions, art competitions and so on. It’s good to reward kids for
hard work and they will appreciate not only the prize, but the recognition and pride
that comes with it. So please feel free to bring toys and school supplies and other
prizes and put them in our storage for later use.
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2.  No Candy

PLF does not ever give candy to children and does not allow volunteers or guests to
give it either. Most of these kids do not own toothbrushes and those who do, rarely
brush. PLF spends hundreds of dollars each year pulling rotten teeth. Without this
care, a rotten tooth can turn into a systemic infection. Instead of candy, consider
bringing toothbrushes and toothpaste, and again, we will let the school nurse
dispense them, not foreigners.
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3.  Photos

Taking photos of student activities is more than welcome. But please remember that
you are visiting a school and not a zoo. Be aware of the kinds of photos that you are
taking and imagine how you would want others to behave if they were at your
children’s school, taking photos of them.

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