After this initial volunteer experience, I was hooked. There is no better way to visit a country, meet the locals, and make a positive impact. Fast forward another few years and my girlfriend, Cortney, and I were in South East Asia looking for the same experience. Luckily, we found Trailblazer.
What did you like the most about the experience?
We loved meeting local people and understanding their culture. Getting to know the families, and being a part of their daily lives, really put everything we do into perspective. I know that is cliché, but it truly changes the way you experience your world.
Trailblazer in particular, proved the importance of the interaction between an organization and the people they are serving. The communities were so involved that it made the work that much easier and fulfilling. Seeing the direct impact to each family, in only a few days, was beyond our expectations.
Additionally, we experienced some amazing things that would not be accessible to most casual tourists. Catching fish in a rice canal and eating ant salsa with cucumber chips are not your average happy hour events.
Where do you live?
Also, I don’t take modern conveniences for granted; running water, the internet, and of course, delicious burritos.
The support that volunteers like Nick and Cortney provide Trailblazer Foundation is beyond our expectations too. While we count on volunteers, we cannot expect their help – simply because they are just that, volunteers. So, we thank you, Nick and Cortney, for your time and commitment to Trailblazer. It means the world to us.
A Volunteer Spotlight
Recently, Trailblazer’s Executive Director, Chris Coats, talked with Nick Munro, a volunteer who worked with our staff in Cambodia, about his experience. Here is that conversation:
What inspired you to volunteer with Trailblazer?
When I was in my early twenties and working at my first job, I got a bit restless and realized it might be a good time to see the world. Serendipity struck, and a college buddy asked if I would help him raise money to start a non-profit in South America. Three months later I quit my job, and was digging latrines in the remote mountains of Peru.
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Also, you can see many posts about our volunteers and their experiences on Trailblazer's Facebook page, including the following recent stories.
- February 11, 2016: Photos from volunteers Anna Neville and James Waggott, who joined us for two weeks from England.
- February 9, 2016: A short video of volunteer Steve Greenfield cooking lunch in the field, with members of Trailblazer's well drilling team staff.
- January 13, 2016: "Act Locally, And Enlist Volunteers Globally" - a look at some photos of, and statistics about, our recent volunteers.
Nick and Cortney's Volunteer Experience, October 2015 (see below for more details).
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As a smaller organization that is committed to doing more with less, interns and volunteers are vital to Trailblazer Foundation's success. We welcome individuals interested in volunteering or interning - the difference being the length of your time with us, the type of support you provide, and where you work.
Additionally, we offer tour companies and their guests an opportunity to see Trailblazer's rural community development work in action, through five types of "responsible tourism" activities. This is a new feature of ours, as of late 2016, and so far both Trailblazer and our guests have had a great experience. So, we look forward to more tour companies taking advantage of this new program. You can learn more about our five options at our Responsible Tourism page.
With respect to volunteering, we have three types of needs, and therefore three types of opportunities:
1) volunteers who typically commit to 1-2 weeks, and help us with our field work in Cambodia (working with our local staff on water filters, gardening, other needs). You can learn more about our field work volunteers here.
2) volunteers who offer 2-10 hours a week of support from their home, for a more extended period of time, helping us with some aspects(s) of our operations, communications, and/or fundraising (typically, working wth one of our U.S. based staff). You can learn more about the types of on-going support our longer term volunteers provide here.
3) interns, typically undergraduate or graduate students looking for practical experience, who take on one or more timely program and/or fundraising projects in Cambodia (working with our in-country Program Manager). You can learn more about the types of focused projects our interns engage in here.
Whether you want to help us in Cambodia or from your home, on a short term basis or for a more substantial amount of time, we expect that your greatest satisfaction will come from knowing you helped any number of rural Cambodian families begin rising up out of subsistence living, toward a place of sustainable living. We look forward to hearing from you, and finding a way to help Trailblazer meet our mission while keeping our costs down. Thanks.
We’re originally from the Lone Star State (Texas), but we currently live in beautiful San Francisco, California.
Did your volunteer experience impact the work you do now? How?
We both work in advertising and design, which seems worlds away from installing water filters in Cambodia, but there are some very key parallels. Volunteering for organizations like Trailblazer, teaches you how to fully utilize your creativity and ingenuity. Things often don’t go as planned, and improvising on the fly is a valuable skill.