What is STORM? (Read this first, if you haven’t)
Got Questions? It’s all covered here.
What’s the weather like in Battambang?
As with most countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is in the tropical monsoon zone. There are 3 main seasons in Cambodia: Rainy season: June – October (<31c)Cool season: November- February (>26c)Hot season: March- May : Temperature: from 28c -35c
What currency do Cambodians use?
The local currency is called Riel (KHR), pronounced as “real”. You can use Riels or USD for purchases. The exchange rate is approximately US$ 1 = KHR 4,000. Do I need VISA to enter the country? Please check Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs page for more details: http://evisa.mfaic.gov.kh/
Will STORM provide insurance coverage for me?
No, and we have chosen this arrangement for various reasons. You may already have an insurance policy and do not require an add on. There are various insurance packages in the market, we encourage you to research and purchase an insurance policy that best suit your needs and budget. Volunteers come at their own risk and the STORM organizer’s wish to advise all volunteers to purchase insurance prior to their visit.
Do I need to pay to volunteer for the STORM program?
Yes. There is a fee that you will need to pay. Check the STORM page for the fee structure. You will have to raise your own funds to cover the expenses of your stay here. If you need ideas or help to fundraise, please get in touch with us and we can brainstorm some ideas and/or direct your to the right people.
Is there a daily schedule?
To give you a rough idea of how your week would look like, we have put together a tentative pre-determined list of things that every volunteer would be tasked to. This list is subject to change depending on the time of your visit and the current immediate need. Interactive weekly discussions revolve around topics such as community development, humanitarian and cross cultural issues.Teaching at the school and/or pre school and assisting with any school activities on weekdaysOrganizing youth/children activities during weekendsVillage visits on weekends Daily debrief with team leadersHouse chores Cooking meals **assist in construction work for various building projects (where necessary)**assist in relief work (during flood season) **assist in teacher training**stay with village folk in the outskirts of Battambang ** These activities may be included in your schedule depending on tasks/project availability and the need at that time of your visit.
How are the people in Battambang & what should I expect?
Just like any city or town, Battambang is made up of people from all walks of life and cultures. The predominant religion or belief in Battambang is Buddhism and you will see religious people like monks sharing the street with you. Most families in Battambang live off the land by farming and selling their crops, some are traders, while others are involved in tourism working as tuk tuk drivers, tour guides and tour operators. You may also see some beggars on the street as poverty is evident in the town. If you encounter beggars and you’re unsure how to respond, please check with your team leader/supervisor first. As a result of its bloodstained past, Cambodia, as a country still suffers from generational ripple impacts. Many children have lost their parents, parents have lost their children and families have lost loved ones in the Polpot regime. We advise you to be sensitive when speaking to people about their families. When you get a chance to visit the villages, you will find rural folk extremely welcoming. They will try to accommodate and give you their best. Their intentions are simple, they just want to serve and make their guests happy. Just fellowship with them and enjoy your time in the the village. You may also see children or adults walking around without shoes or slippers or children who are half dressed, don’t be alarmed as again, poverty is evident. If you are taking photos, please ask for permission before snapping away. It’s just simple courtesy.
As a country that is thick in religion and has certain cultural values, we ask that you dress appropriately and be sensitive to community norms. For ladies, try to avoid the following when you are out and about: Spaghetti or thin striped tops and dresses, short (above the knee) skirts or shorts, tube tops or dresses and overly exposed or see-through clothing. For guys, try to avoid sleeveless shirts or walking around topless when you’re out and and about. Apart from the above, you are free to pack anything else from your wardrobe. We also suggest you bring a scarf, buff or mask for dust protection, especially when you’re on the motorbike.
Where will I be staying and what are the living conditions I should expect?
You will be given a basic living space and this space may be shared with one or more participants of the same gender. Your living area (whether it is a room or shared space) will have the following, clean toilet and shower, a bed/mattress with clean sheets, pillow and blanket, shared living area and a fan. Note: If you are coming as a team (of more than four people), your lodging arrangement will be slightly different. Terence or Deb will advise you accordingly.
How will I know if I’m sharing the space with someone else?
We will inform you once you have confirmed your time and duration of visit.
Will I be required to do house chores?
Yes, you will be rostered for house chores. You are responsible for keeping your living space clean and tidy. If you are sharing the space with other people, you will work as a team to ensure that the living space is presentable at all times.
Do I need to cook any meals?
Yes. You will be required to cook a minimum of three meals a week. You will also visit the local market to buy the fresh produce. We encourage you to remember some recipes and feel free to bring your own condiments as some things are hard to find in Battambang.
How do I get from Siem Reap to Battambang?
We will arrange for a bus or van to pick you up from the airport. A designated personnel or Terence/Deb will meet you at the airport upon touchdown. The journey back to Siem Reap after your volunteer duration will also be pre-arranged. If you have a special request or wish to extend your stay in Siem Reap, please notify us when applying for the program.
How will I get around in Battambang?
Your main mode of transport in Battambang is on a motorbike. You will be riding pillion with another licensed rider. Most people get around the town in a motorbike. For safety reasons, you will be required to wear a helmet when you’re on the bike. Occasionally, you might get on a tuk-tuk or even a bicycle.
What kind of food should I expect when I eat out?
Khmer cuisine is very similar to Chinese food. There are varieties of stir fries, noodles, rice, veggies, meat dishes and soup noodles. There are also local sandwiches similar to the Vietnamese ‘Banh Mi’ that is ideal for lunch or a light dinner. Fruit shakes are a big hit and they come in all sorts of concoctions. Other non-so-enticing bites such as balut (half formed, boiled chicken egg), spiders, scorpions and other insects as well animal innards are also available for tasting if you are game for it! You would also have access to coffee/tea and basic snacks during your stay.
If I fall sick, is there a reliable clinic on site?
Yes, there is a district hospital in Battambang and pharmacies in the town center where you can get just about any medication needed. If you are on a specific medication prescribed by your doctor, we advise you to bring sufficient supply for your stay. Also, painkillers such as aspirin or paracetamol is advised. Just bring a packet for emergency purposes.
Do I need any vaccinations prior to the trip?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends certain precautionary steps. Please read here:http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/cambodia for more information. If in doubt, consult your local doctor.
If my parents want to visit me during my stay, can they come?
Yes, they are welcomed. We would be delighted if they also want to volunteer at their own capacity. Please notify us prior to your coming if your parents wish to visit.
Will I be able to call home, check my emails, connect on Facebook and chat with my friends back home?
Yes, yes, yes and yes! You are not on a deserted island and Battambang has reliable internet service. Depending on where you will be staying, you should have daily internet access. You may want to consider getting a pre-paid plan for your smartphone / mobile phone during your stay here. This will guarantee you connectivity 24/7. Please check with us on cost for a pre-paid plan.
Is there any training or briefing prior to my trip?
You will be given thorough briefing upon arrival. Prior to the trip, we will give you necessary information to prepare you for the trip.
What should I bring during my stay. Is there a checklist?
If you are coming in a group, your team leader will provide you with a checklist. If you are coming alone, Terence or Deb will email you the checklist closer to the date of your visit.
I want to make donations in kind. What sort of items do you accept?
We love donations in kind and the local community will benefit from this. Donations in kind will be sorted and distributed to different communities depending on their need. Generally we accept the following: pre-loved or brand new clothes (must be in good condition), books, stationery and toiletries. Prior to your visit, please let us know what items you will be bringing and we will be able to advise you accordingly. If you still have questions that are not already answered here, drop us an email at terencedeb [at] gmail [dot] com