Promoting a culture of volunteering to Cambodian youth
Over a period of 3 weeks, I had the unique opportunity of living with a Cambodian Rover Scout and his family. During this time, I learned a great deal about Cambodian culture, and the context of Scouting within this country.
The trip was the result of several months of communication with the Deputy International Commissioner of the Cambodia Scouts, Em Piseth. Through these discussions, and discussions ongoing throughout my visit to Cambodia, I learnt of the needs of the Association, and in particular the Rover section. As a result of my initial conversations with Piseth, the original aim was to provide assistance for the Cambodian Rover section with their National Rover governance policy, and to "sow the seed" by beginning conversations around establishing a Scout Group or volunteer arrangement in a Cambodian children's centre.
A number of experiences throughout my stay contributed to the evolution of my initial ideas. These included learning about existing service projects of the Cambodian Scouts, as well as arranging visits to two Cambodian Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to develop ideas for future volunteering partnerships.
Multiple meetings were held with Em Piseth, other Commissioners of the Cambodia Scouts, and Sok Sabayna, National Coordinator of the Young Adult Management Group (YMG). These meetings allowed for sharing of ideas relating to Rover section management, and the place of volunteer service in the Rover Section.
As a developing country with a complicated political and economical history, and uniquely youthful population, favour for the concept of volunteering is not common amongst the Cambodian people. As the economy builds over time, the Cambodia Scouts are looking at ways to build a culture of volunteering in their popular and growing organisation. This new knowledge led to an alteration in the aims of the project, to focus more on how to improve the capacity of the Cambodian Rover section to participate in volunteer service activities.
As part of this I prepared and delivered presentations to Cambodian Rover Scouts and held more in-depth discussions with individual Rovers. I also worked with Em Piseth and others to consider and formulate initiatives to support volunteering amongst Rovers. These discussions are the beginning of what I hope will be an ongoing effort to develop a national structure for Rovering in Cambodia. Such a structure would actively promote and deliver volunteer opportunities through partnerships with other NGOs in the community.
It has become apparent that the capacity for the Cambodian Rovers to provide volunteer service opportunities must be maximised prior to embarking on establishing programmes such as the one I initially aimed to achieve. Additionally, Em Piseth and I hope that this will provide future opportunities for Scouts from abroad to visit Cambodia and take part in shorter-term opportunities that may arise, hopefully achieving their Scouts of the World Award in the process. Undoubtedly these projects may also be registered and shared under the banner of Messengers of Peace.As I have identified already, it seems that this project will continue to develop at its own will, and as such I have offered support by correspondence into the future if required to help set-up this initiative.