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Dan Vercruysse Travels to Cambodia: Part 1 of 5

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    • Dan Vercruysse Travels to Cambodia as the First Recipient of the Scherer Travel Scholarship

      Given annually by Lea and Jeff Scherer (MSR emeritus principal), the Scherer Travel Scholarship is awarded to an MSR employee, based on a proposal that demonstrates how a proposed travel experience will benefit the office and society, as well as enriching the individual. In this first blog post (in a series of five), scholarship recipient Dan Vercruysse shares about his volunteering experience in Cambodia.

      A major focus of my travel plan was learning about culture through service work dedicated to the development of rural areas. Because of Cambodia’s ongoing recovery from the Khmer Rouge occupation in the 1970s, there a number of NGO’s that provide many opportunities for this kind of volunteer experience.


      A note on volunteering–my experience suggests that a fair bit of research on the organization you are thinking about working with is in order. It is worthwhile to explore their available materials and ask yourself these questions:

      1. Do they publish external audits of their work and finances?
      2. Do their programs use foreign (from the organization’s home country) staff, or do they employ local people to lead and operate the programs?
      3. Does the organization provide packaged “experiences” with fees and costs related to overhead, housing, and meals, or will you be setting this up on your own, possibly to the financial benefit of the locals?

      All of these are considerations that I discovered along the way are important facts related to ethical volunteering. These observations are not intended to question the benefits provided by different volunteer opportunities, but rather a suggestion that you gather the best information to make the right choice for you.

      My search arrived at the Trailblazer Foundation as the organization I wanted to work with. I liked that their efforts were varied, with a focus on providing clean water to rural villages (a very real need); activities were carried out and lead by local people (I would just be assisting them); there were no fees that would go back to an organizational structure in a different country, allowing me to make a donation directly to Trailblazer Foundation where it would be more impactful.

      If anyone out there is interested in learning more about Trailblazer Foundation, I encourage you to contact me directly or visit their website: https://www.thetrailblazerfoundation.org/

      Next up… Well drilling in Cambodia.

    • Rural Cambodia
    • Rural Cambodia
    • Local worker Khot Srey Leap
    • Local worker Vichet Seng (Big Vichet)
    • Local worker Mani
    • Local worker Vichet Mantra (Little Vichet)
    • Local worker Suyheng Hor
    • And our "serious" team of international volunteers (Kristilyn and Dan Vercruysse, far right)
    • About the Author

      Dan Vercruysse

      • Architect / Senior Associate
      • dan@msrdesign.com
      • 612 359 3225
      • View Bio