Initially, the combination of travelling to Asia, doing something that would benefit my skill development, as well as improving children’s education was the perfect combo. But at the time I didn’t realise that this experience abroad would also help to shape my chosen career path and the direction I now hope my life and work to travel in!


Siem Reap: My role

Siem Reap is a beautiful and vibrant city with Angkor Wat, the infamous Pub Street, bustling markets and floating villages. Nevertheless, the true experience I gained was from my 8-6 work in the NFPO school. The children’s infectious smiles and keen-bean learning attitude made teaching an absolute dream, and the adults drive to better their education at a later stage was extremely admirable. My main focus as a Human Geography student was teaching them as much as possible about environmental importance and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and I revelled in conveying my specialised knowledge that I’ve built up over the years. Surprisingly, I feel like until this experience I had never been given the chance to explore teaching and practising the subject I love so much. Being able to develop my communication skills, patience (because working with young children can be interestinggg), and my teamwork abilities because of the amazing Cardiff team I worked alongside was a real learning journey for me.


Siem Reap: Challenges

But this isn’t to say that as a team we weren’t faced with challenges on a day-to-day basis. The unmissable, prominent poverty took some time to adjust to, and even now I’m not sure I have got over some basic needs inequality that the children face, such as their dental hygiene, diet and footwear. I have certainly not taken toothbrushes and toothpaste for granted since the trip. And that’s without even delving into the language barrier of Khmer and English. But this inequality realisation, as well as numerous other epiphanies, was so vital to doing my job properly and teaching to the best of my ability. Only fuelling my enthusiasm and appreciation for international development and SAFE’s work further.


Cardiff: Volunteering at SAFE HQ

It was this appreciation that led me to follow SAFE to their HQ in Cardiff to work as an admin assistant. This dynamic and multi-task role led me to creative work in design, lots of project brainstorming, developing ideas for the Global Citizenship scheme, blogging, and working on testimonials from previous volunteers. And is something that I would urge any previous projects volunteers to look into! Not only because you gain an understanding of how the charity ticks (abroad and in the UK), but also because you get to work more closely with the kindest and friendliest people on the planet.  

As I finish uni and move back to London I am incredibly grateful for all the experiences SAFE has given me, from cows roaming through my classroom during an English lesson on colours, to teaching duck-duck-goose, to sorting through 100s of flat caps for the ethical boutique shop. Now about to start an internship in a West London refugee NGO because of my passion for development work, I can only stress to others looking into international aid and development and the third sector the importance of volunteering, especially with SAFE. I do think they ‘transformed my life in Britain whilst changing lives around the world’. For more information about getting involved go to: https://www.thesafefoundation.co.uk/volunteer-with-us