Cambodia has the lowest level of volunteering in the world and ranked near the bottom of a report that measured the population of 153 nations’ commitment to volunteering and donating money to charities.
Only two percent of the Cambodian population volunteered for charities, political organizations or places of worship, the report stated. In a regional comparison, Burma had the highest percentage of volunteers at forty percent, while Lao and Indonesia had over 30 percent. Southeast Asia was the highest ranked region in Asia and 6th globally for volunteering time.
Overall rankings given in the report by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation, combined the percentages of people who volunteered, gave money to organizations and spent time helping a stranger in the month before being surveyed. The report based its findings from the data collected by Gallup’s WorldView World Poll, “an ongoing research project carried out in 153 countries.”
Ou Eng, the director general of the Education department at the Ministry of Education, said the ministry was pushing students to volunteer. “We have less volunteers…but a lot of people have the idea for volunteering.”
“I think right now all the schools are getting the students to volunteer,” said Vot Sokna, 20, a first-year student at Pannasastra University. “I think everybody wants to volunteer, but it depends on the time people have.”
Most students don’t have a choice but to volunteer after graduating from a university, said Kan Sylong, the project coordinator of Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development.
“I think in Cambodia it is very hard to find work for students after they finish university,” Mr Sylong said. “Before [companies] select the staff, they suggest [applicants] have experience. So the youth in Cambodia volunteer to catch the experience for their job.” “Not many older people volunteer,” Mr Sylong added. “It’s a small amount because they don’t have good living conditions. We are a developing country…very poor. [People] need money to support their families. When people volunteer, they are the people that don’t have to think about living conditions.”
Others interviewed said there were several different ways to help others.
“I have never volunteered because I don’t have time,” said a woman who identified herself as Ath, 71, an owner of a small shop on St 172 in Daun Penh district. “I just go to the pagoda every week to bring food for the monks.”