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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Volunteers neglected

Volunteers neglected

The Editor,

We are two volunteers working as part of a large volunteer

program in Cambodia who would like to draw attention to the work of volunteers

world-wide.

At many of our workplaces we work alongside expatriates in

high-profile, well-funded projects.

Admirable as these projects may be,

all too often the work of the volunteers is undervalued and not given the

professional recognition it deserves.

Volunteers are people who are

skilled in a variety of professions, and who have often given up well-paid

positions at home to come and share their skills in less developed countries

with little financial support.

While we are not looking for praise for

the work that we do, it is at times frustrating to be taken for granted and

classified as a mere volunteer rather than as a qualified

professional.

The title "volunteer" is not an indication of profession

but of salary status.

Very often volunteers are in a situation where they

train and work with local staff without financial backing and without offering

monetary reward for commitment to work.

The priority is sustainablity of

projects which often does not seem to be the case with the "hit and run" tactics

of those projects which inject a large amount of cash and equipment for a

limited period of time.

Such methods do not ensure lasting commitment

either form the project organizers or from the recipients.

After all, it

is primarily the skills and dedication of the local staff which will enable a

project to continue after the foreign advisers leave.

It is sad that in

the world of development money talks so loudly and basic practical skills

training is often overlooked.

- Ruth Bottomley, Siobhan Gorman,

Voluntary Service Overseas

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