With its troubled past and rich history and culture, Cambodia is an increasingly popular travel spot for international tourists. Whether discovering the breathtaking temples of Angkor Wat, exploring the seaside towns or delving into the dark past of the Khmer Rouge regime, the country has much beauty and history to explore. Bordering Thailand, Laos and Vietnam it is the perfect country to see in isolation or to include in a longer Southeast Asian adventure.
Despite the developments in Cambodia in recent years, the Cambodian people experience great hardships. 36% of the population live below the poverty line. Although rates have fallen, HIV/AIDS is prevalent in the country, compounded by its sex industry.
With many Cambodians living in poverty, there is much that international tourists and the international community can offer to help Cambodians access basic rights such as health, education, food and shelter.
There are a number of opportunities to help that fall under the relatively new umbrella of “voluntourism”, for example. Voluntourism combines sightseeing and the unique cultural experiences of the country, with volunteer programs. Whether you undertake environmental conservation, cleaning up beaches or help teach in schools, voluntourism allows you to volunteer your time while on holiday and give something back to the local communities.
Even if you’re not visiting the country, there are a number of other ways to assist Cambodian communities. When you sponsor a child, for example, you can help give Cambodian children a brighter future. Sex exploitation of children is rife in Cambodia, children are often victims of land mine injuries and many do not have access to education due to a lack of money or having to help their parents on the farm. Child sponsorship is an important way to make a real difference in the life of a child.
The communities of sponsored children also benefit, with the funds going towards wider infrastructure and longer term changes.
Cambodia is an enchanting destination, but one that can benefit from your help. So if you’re planning a trip to this country of great beauty, history and suffering, think about how you can also help Cambodia’s development.