sally hetherington

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Cambodia, Voluntourism

This is why we say ‘no’ to foreign volunteers

I am often asked by people whether they can volunteer at Human and Hope Association. Although they understand that we don’t accept foreign volunteers, they believe that they can still contribute with their skills in-country. I get it, I do. I understand wanting to help in a hands-on way and wanting to utilise your skills. It is good to feel needed. But, as my new book states, ‘It’s Not About Me’ (or you). Human and Hope Association is proudly run by local staff. They  ...

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Cambodia, Voluntourism

Blogs and articles on voluntourism you HAVE to read

For those of you who follow my blog (all two of you – hi, Mum and Dad), you will know my stance on voluntourism [short-term volunteering overseas, often for a fee]. I don’t agree with it. As a former voluntourist myself, turned Volunteer Coordinator, I realised that voluntourists were inadvertently disempowering local staff, creating detachment issues with children, taking local jobs and contributing to the unsustainability of local organisations. In short, they are often doing  ...

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Cambodia, Human and Hope Association, Voluntourism

“I want to teach the children a song in Portuguese”

In 2013, I initiated child protection workshops at Human and Hope Association. We had implemented our visitor policy, which only allowed for visitors to come to Human and Hope Association with appointments, and they had to adhere to our strict conditions. We had erected a sign at the pagoda (which also included a ‘no horses in the pagoda’ rule, to keep the Monks happy with us constructing a sign) and were determined to keep tourists away unless they had an appointment. The first step of the  ...

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Cambodia, Featured, Human and Hope Association, Poverty Tourism, Thoughts, Voluntourism

Treating Children as ‘Team Building’ Activities

One day in February 2016, Human and Hope Association was approached by a tour company in Phnom Penh. They wanted to bring 15 tourists from India to Human and Hope Association to “teach, play with the kids and do something competitive” so that those tourists would have ‘team building’. If we allowed them to do that, they would give us a donation in return. I was absolutely mortified. I had known that this was common practice with some tour companies, however, we had never been approached to  ...

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Cambodia, Featured, Orphanages, Poverty Tourism, Voluntourism

Read This Before Paying to Volunteer Overseas

Recently, Projects Abroad announced that by the end of 2017, they will no longer send volunteers to help directly in orphanages, instead focus on supporting community-based care for children. Although this is great progress for a company that generates great profits through the vulnerable, this isn’t enough. Organisations such as Projects Abroad and IVHQ offer a wide range of experience for voluntourists, such as social work, animal care, building and agriculture, in addition to the  ...

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Cambodia, Developing countries, Human and Hope Association, Voluntourism

The importance of championing for local communities

“Cambodians should help themselves and their own people whenever they can. By running their own NGO’s, they can demonstrate the ability to successfully operate organisations on their own. They then become good role models to other organisations that depend on foreigners and give Cambodians confidence in themselves. When Cambodians run their own NGO’s, they eliminate the assumption of some Cambodians and foreigners who say that some jobs can only be undertaken by foreign nationals. It is  ...

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Featured, Poverty Tourism, Voluntourism

Is giving direct aid a good thing or a bad thing?

A few years ago I was at a hospital about 60km from Siem Reap, Cambodia. My friend, a nurse, was working as an advisor there to build the capacity of the nursing staff. She became frustrated as the staff weren’t taking care of their equipment. When she raised the issue with them, they shrugged and responded, “Who cares? We will just get more donated.” Giving direct aid is a sensitive topic. In some cases, it can be effective, such as cash transfer programs. However, there  ...

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Cambodia, Featured, Poverty Tourism, Voluntourism

So you want to volunteer to teach in a developing country

It is great that you have the urge to help, but before you jump online and book your flights, stop and ask yourself the following questions. Am I qualified? Firstly, are you a qualified teacher? Many people who visit Cambodia to ‘teach’ are unqualified teenagers or young adults who are still learning themselves. Would you want your child to learn from someone who wasn’t qualified to teach; who didn’t possess the necessary skills to control a class; who may be so  ...

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Charity, Developing countries, Development, Empowerment, Human and Hope Association, Poverty, Rotaract, Social problems, Thoughts, Voluntourism

After almost four years, it is time.

Human and Hope is a grassroots organisation in Siem Reap. Through education, vocational training and community support, we aim to empower Cambodians to create sustainable futures for themselves and break the cycle of poverty.  The time has come. Today I am leaving Human and Hope Association, an organisation I have been developing since October 2012, to be entirely Khmer operated. Many people have asked me about my story and I have always given them a short answer as I find it difficult to  ...

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