Retired Principal, Rob McCurdy, tells us why he keeps coming back to volunteer
My name is Rob, I am from Australia and I finished a lengthy career in teaching and was ready to offer my services in whatever way I could. I was in discussions with Adrian, one of the founders and ED of Tuk Tuk 4 Children, which piqued my interest and as they say, the rest is history.
I made the commitment to purchase a ticket to Phnom Penh and was met there by two of the team members. From that point is was a fantastic experience that I could almost call life changing. In the following 6 weeks I met and worked with volunteers from I think eight different countries and forged friendships that still continue. We visited schools, villages and participated in community activities with a single view of making a difference to the lives of those we came into contact with.
If financial consideration crosses your mind then I offer the following….. living in Pursat is very cheap compared to Western Cultures. The flashest hotels will cost you around $18US per night but TT4C now have volunteer accommodation at their base (Tukqwarters) in central Pursat that will cost you about $120 US a month or $4 a night. Living expenses are very low with an average dinner out in the evening costing just a few dollars. They are a regular event and during these evenings we socialize and share our life experiences with new friends from across the world. We also share ideas and plan what we will try to achieve the following day, week or month. There is always an escort home in the evenings for newcomers if required and bicycles are usually provided for easy transportation when we are not using the Tuk Tuk. There is a simple but effective orientation program for volunteers. TT4C is a registered Australian Charity and abides by strict rules and regulations. I must add though that Pursat is a very safe place to be.
Some of the volunteers stay a few days, others a week, a month or even a year. I returned for a further 8 weeks in 2016 and again in 2017 for another 2 months. I plan on coming once more in 2017 towards the end of the year. Returning is like coming home in a sense and the elation on the faces of the kids and many adults is just so rewarding.
So what does one do to help? Ideas are readily forthcoming and a daily plan merges without too thought or effort. Adrian and the other team members are always on hand to make suggestions and usually you work as part of a team.
On any typical day I may be involved in any of the following;
- Assisting the local Khmer workers by discussing what they are doing for TT4C, assisting with interpretation or just developing their own English skills by being with them.
- Visiting the local schools and “working” (better defined as having fun) with the children aged between 3 and 14 years generally. Recently I worked with an 11 year volunteer from Canada who virtually taught classes (under adult supervision) by just being herself and imparting knowledge about her own life and skills.
- School grounds beautification the results of which you will see on the TT4C website.
- Teacher training ( working within my personal skill range)
- Tuk Tuk Theatre where we visit local villages and interact with kids for fun, education and learning.
- Pre school visits helping to establish a mobile book and toy library.
As well I have attended weddings, funerals, cultural events, celebrations, staff functions, visited the local market, been part of the swimming classes, had meals at the homes of local families and been acknowledged and chatted too by hundreds of local people on the street all with a smile on their face.
The rewards are simply enormous as the often used comment “what price do you put on 1000 smiles a day” highlights.
I would be happy to answer any questions you may have at rob(at)tuktuk4children.org and address any concerns if you were considering a trip. Also, scroll through the Tuk Tuk for Children website and Director Adrian is available any time.