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volunteering

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Thank you for being interested in becoming a Green Gecko volunteer. As you may have guessed by now, spending time at Green Gecko is about more than just hanging out with the kids.

The Green Gecko Project is a Cambodian organisation, and all of our employees are Khmer. It has always been our goal to make our project sustainable by strengthening the skills of our local staff. Most of our activities are now run proudly by locals or outsourced to specialist teachers.

As a result of our changing needs, our volunteer application procedures have changed. The focus of our volunteer program is now on specialised creative skills, and we invite anyone with an interest in proposing a workshop program to send us an email outlining their idea to see if it will be suitable for our program Green Gecko.

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While the time a volunteer stays varies greatly, we have found three months is the ideal time to maximise the benefits for the children and your own experience. Of course, anyone with specific skills may be able to assist over a shorter stay by proposing a workshop plan.

As many of the Green Gecko kids are young adults themselves now, we prefer our volunteers to be at least 25 years old or to have had strong experience in working with children, such as education or social work.

Once approved, successful applicants will need to provide a scanned image of their passport, relevant references, a police check from their country of residence and to abide by our strict Child Protection Policy. The reasons for this - we are sure - are obvious. South East Asia is sadly a breeding ground for child sex-crime and pedophilia and protecting our children is our highest priority.

:: VISITORS
If you only have a few days or hours and would still like to visit - no problem - we have visiting hours between 9.30am-10.30am, Monday-Friday.

:: AVAILABLE DATES
Thanks to an abundance of generous beings volunteering their time and energy, our next available volunteering dates are from January 2015.

If you would like to volunteer before this date or are younger than 25, please check out GLOBALTEER and About ASIA Schools for volunteer opportunities in Cambodia and worldwide.

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:: VOLUNTEERING | WHAT'S NEXT?

We recommend that you download and read the following documents thoroughly. After you have done this then please email your initial creative project ideas or any enquiries to volunteer@greengeckoproject.org, so we can discuss your ideas over email. If you have what we're looking for and think Gecko is the right place for you, our volunteer coordinator will send you our Volunteer Application Form and Character Reference Form so you can get the ball rolling.

VOLUNTEERS HANDBOOK (click here to download PDF)
CHILD PROTECTION POLICY (click here to download PDF)

If on the other hand - after reading all this - you decide that Green Gecko may not be quite what you are looking for, there are MANY other wonderful NGOs (non-government organisations) in Cambodia that need your support and time and as much as we do. If you are interested in learning more about some of them please check out ConCERT Cambodia (www.concertcambodia.org).


:: FAQ'S ABOUT VOLUNTEERING

What hours will be working?
Although the kids are at Gecko are up at the crack of dawn we don't expect you to be there at that time (phew!). Basically volunteers are responsible for 'Gecko Activities and they occur between 8.30am and 4.15pm (Monday to Friday), with some time out for lunch and rest time. There are a few things on Saturday to get involved in, but it's not every Saturday and it doesn't involve lesson planning!

There are opportunities or events that sometimes fall outside these hours like excursions or football matches. These are optional and generally a hoot. As with everything, these hours may change as our programs develop.

What kind of backgrounds do the children have?
All of the Green Gecko children are former street kids who in their past have lacked order, discipline, and been abused. Most have had little or no parental care. Although they have improved in leaps and bounds it is important to keep in mind where they have come from and aware of the scars that they may be concealing, both physically and emotionally.

Do you offer accommodation for volunteers?
All our volunteers come to Cambodia independently or through an Independent Volunteer Program. Each volunteer is completely responsible for themselves, as our hands are pretty full already. :) There are many budget guest houses available that are clean, neat and safe, some very close to town and our centre. A volunteer favourite is the The Siem Reap Hostel. They also offer great discounts for Gecko volunteers, so be sure to let them know why you are in town! Siem Reap is a very touristy town with many westerners and western restaurants, bars and supermarkets, so if you come alone, you need never feel alone.

What clothing is appropriate in Cambodia?
On arrival in Cambodia you will instantly notice that they are very modest people, even the men. Bare shoulders in front of a monk, at the temples or in a pagoda are considered offensive. Also considered a no-no in Buddhist society is our ever-popular short t-shirts/singlets and low cut/hipster trousers or skirts that show your belly button or, even worse, your underwear! Short shorts or skirts are definitely frowned upon. It of course is not a rule, but it is a sign of a respectful, informed and conscious traveller.

What do we wear when volunteering?
All our volunteers are issued with Gecko Crew t-shirts that can be worn with your own long shorts, jeans, pants or long skirts.

Do any of the children have HIV?
Due to the children's right to privacy we are unable to find out or disclose any child's medical status or history. For this reason we take the same precautions with every child, using rubber gloves if any first aid is needed.

Do I need health insurance?
It is our strongest recommendation that you take our comprehensive medical insurance to protect yourself against accidents or serious illness. Good medical treatment is at a minimum and can cost the earth. Make sure your insurance has evacuation cover if ever the unmentionable happened.

Do I need to insure my valuables?
Understandably, the Green Gecko Project is not in a position to be responsible for personal loss or injury. While we trust the children wholeheartedly, please don't risk carrying anything valuable unnecessarily to the centre, or for that matter, when out and about at night. The dangers are no different to that of any main city. Walking home alone at night in dark areas is not recommended, nor is carrying your bag in the front basket of your bicycle without tying the straps to the handlebars.

Do you follow a code of ethics?
We follow the Early Childhood Australia's Code of Ethics for working with each other and with the children. You can read the Code of Ethics online at Early Childhood Australia's website.

Do I need to fundraise for Green Gecko?
While it is not by any means compulsory, many of our volunteers manage to do some fundraising before they arrive, and of course we greatly appreciate and always need financial contributions. Please feel free to use our online fundraising resources to spread the news about the Green Gecko Project to friends and family who may wish to support your volunteering spirit without being able to join you in person. What you do with any money raised is completely up to you. It may be as simple as paying the centre's rent, or as detailed as actually developing a microbusiness for a family. We welcome project ideas, plans for how to execute them, and the funding to get them up and running, and we aim to get you as much involved as possible to make the most of your experience here. Ultimately, we hope you will return home inspired to continue your association with, and support for, the Green Gecko kids.

Does Green Gecko charge a fee to volunteer?
No we don't, but we don't provide any accommodation or travel assistance either. All Gecko volunteers come to us as either independent travellers (who find their own way here and around) or connect with a volunteer organisation who will help them along their way.

Can I interact with the children outside of Green Gecko?
While there is so much fun and laughter to be had, there is also a very serious side to volunteering. It is SO EASY to form favourites (even though we know we shouldn't) and want to take a child or children somewhere special or buy them something as a treat out-of-hours. Besides creating jealousy and rivalry, there is a worse consequence to consider. Unfortunately having positive experiences like this with you, can lead a child into a false sense of security and wanting to replicate the experience with another, only to find the next westerner they spend time alone with may not as well-intentioned as you. Terrible things have happened as a result of this and for this reason we have the following rules for ALL volunteers/visitors to abide by. The children's long term safety and wellbeing are our highest priority. We are sure you understand our position.

* NO child is to be taken on a motorbike, tuk-tuk or car without making prior arrangements with the directors of Green Gecko.

* NO children are to be taken to your guesthouse or accommodation (under any circumstance). This is an offence and punishable by Cambodian law.

* NO socialising with the children outside the centre apart from a friendly hello (unless arranged by management).

* NO emails are to be sent to children except via the Green Gecko Project email system. No one is to set up a personal email address for the children.

* NO children are to be singled out with special attention or gifts. Please refer to our Child Protection Policy for further details.


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