Letter from a volunteer
My name is Ben Tipper. I am a 27-year-old chiropractor from Melbourne, Australia. I came to Cambodia with my partner, who was beginning a Youth Ambassador position with AusAID, in September, 2007.
Before leaving Australia I began to research organisations in Cambodia, with the intention of lending my support in any way possible, and make a contribution to the development of Cambodia. During this research, I came across a number of organisations doing amazing work assisting the people of Cambodia. One of these organisations was Lom Orng (then called CWARS). The work they were doing with landmine victims in Cambodia intrigued me from the start.
I immediately got in contact with the managing director of Lom Orng, Mr Sam Oeurn Pok, and offered to help in any way possible. From that first email we developed an instant rapport, and outlined a plan in which I could assist in research and documentation of the effectiveness and success of the organisation. I was glad to offer an outside perspective of the organisation, and help improve their already impressive success rate of the graduates from the vocational training centre.
Lom Orng - my overall perspective
The next thing that impressed me was the extra care offered to the students. Different partnerships with organisations allowing students access to counselling and business training is a vital part of such a program, and I would imagine contributes a great deal to its success.
This takes me to the point of their success rate. Any organisation in the world would be happy to have the success rate that Lom Orng enjoys. Again, it is a credit to those involved. Giving the students detailed training, the equipment required to start working, and the knowledge to run a business, are important factors in this success I am sure.
Equally impressive was the tapioca starch factory in Battambang, which was then nearing completion. To be already organising a sustainable income for such an organisation is years ahead of most NGOs. The facility is enormous, and will not only provide many more new jobs for Cambodian people, but a great economic base for this organisation to grow from.
The equipment trainees are provided with on graduating is outstanding, as are the prosthetics. The only area where I felt improvement could be made would be more regular visits to graduates, particularly those starting out in areas with small populations. This way those who struggle initially can be guided and coached to get their business up and running faster. I realise this is extremely difficult given the number of graduates, and the remote areas they live in, but it would be of great benefit to the students. I am sure as road conditions improve, regular observation and continued support will be made easier.
Having met a great deal of the staff, it is easy to see why this organisation is so successful - from the staff in the head office who are driven, intelligent and hard-working, to the friendly, good-natured and equally hard-working staff at the training facility. (And they are all good volleyball players too!) All understand clearly the aims and goals of the organisation, and are working together to achieve them. You cannot underestimate the fact that they all genuinely care about the students they are helping.
I have enjoyed thoroughly my initial work with Lom Orng and look forward to my next adventure.
46 Clifton St
brtipper @ hotmail.com
Phone:(+61) 0425 760 897 (+855) 092 416 828
[Ben did the training survey and interviews of our graduates].