Abuse of a child in any form is forbidden. Any abuse will be reported to the local police and to the International authorities. It is very important that you observe the rules of our community and the Khmer Culture. Please understand that all of the Volunteer Rules are designed to protect the children and their way of living, as well as to help you participate in a positive way.
Cultural rules concerning contact and gender
- Do not invite children into the volunteer quarters, nor go into a child’s room. There are many places on the WOCC property to interact with the children.
- Female volunteers are not allowed to spend time with our teenage boys and in the same way, Male volunteers are not allowed to spend time with our teenage girls. There is to be no hugging, wrestling or other physical touching (even in a playful way) of any kind to our pre-teens or teens, nor are volunteers allowed to leave the property with a teenager of the opposite sex. They may only be a few years younger than you, and seem innocent of the world, but they are aware of male/female relationships.
- The youngest children are the most accessible and open towards volunteers but be aware of those who are older, quieter and not as extroverted – with our children’s backgrounds, feelings are unknowingly easily hurt and those that are quiet may need your attention more.
- Do not kiss or coddle the children, it’s culturally insensitive. Remember that you will leave after your chosen time, so emotional attachments must be taken into consideration.
Cultural rules concerning communication
- Please be thoughtful and culturally sensitive in answering children’s questions. Some information about your personal life (especially partying, drinking and so forth) and or culture may not be appropriate to share, even though children may ask probing questions.
- Keep any casual conversation between volunteers regarding alcohol or other “adult” content at the Volunteer Dorm and only then if you are sure there are not children within earshot.
- Many of our teenagers utilize Facebook. Please do not ‘friend’ them if you have, or plan to have photos of you drinking/partying. Become culturally sensitive in your travels and understand that social networking is not always the best way to communicate with impressionable youth. Sending them an occasional email is adequate to let them know you are thinking about Wat Opot, although, the best way to keep in touch with everyone is through the Wat Opot facebook page or email address.
General WOCC rules
- Women must be discreet in dress (no short shorts/skirts, tank-tops – basically knees and shoulders covered). If you do not have modest articles of clothing, maybe our home is not the place for you.
- Absolutely no smoking/drinking/illegal drugs while you are a volunteer at WOCC –not in our community; not in the village; not in our vicinity. You will be asked to leave immediately upon violation. This is not only our rules but the Ministry of Social Services who will close down any Children’s programs, if staff or volunteers are caught using drugs.
- Observe the culture at the Children’s Community and in the village. Please respect and blend in with the Khmer as much as possible. As with many institutions, we are known by our guests and watched by the local population. The way you behave will affect the reputation of our community
- Do not make any individual gifts to the children or staff especially monetary gifts. You may not use your personal feelings (i.e. “Oh, he was so cute and I couldn’t say no.”) as an excuse to buy anything for one of our children. If you seemingly cannot resist, then be prepared to buy one for each of our 50+ children and we will distribute accordingly.
- Within our commune all residents are treated equally and therefore showing favoritism to a few creates envy and jealousy. There is a fair system already in place for earning rewards and benefits and it should be followed. If you wish to make a gift to all of the children or staff please tell us in advance and we will coordinate.
- The children’s safety, health and happiness are our highest priority. Respecting their traditions and schedules is very important. Consistency and following any routines we have in place are especially good for the children and we try not to disrupt them often.
- Volunteers are expected to be on time for scheduled activities. Our day starts at 7:00AM and the day doesn’t end until the children go to bed at 9:00PM.
- We have two children’s dorms, school room, nursery, preschool, computer room, creative learning center, arts and crafts room, music room and health clinic on the campus. Should you have a specific skill in any of these areas please let us know.
- When at Wat Opot you are in our home, please do not make suggestions upon arrival! There are certainly different ways to run a large household; but we think we are currently on the right track and have established systems that work for us.
- Good ideas are welcome for consideration, but observe how our ways work for us before suggesting a change. We have taken into account how things work long term especially during the many times when there are no volunteers.
Your presence and willingness to work alongside of us is appreciated. You will be joining our community; therefore subject to the rules already in place.
If you can commit to our rules please contact us and request a Volunteer form for submission.