Study and Work Away Service

Cathal's Go Abroad Fund Experience

Cathal spent six weeks volunteering with the NGO Community First in Kralanh District in rural Cambodia. He travelled as part of a team of four engineering students from the University of Edinburgh’s ‘Engineering For Change’ Society in order to build a new aquaponics system in a local village and develop Community First’s Farm School campus.

 

Volunteering Experience

Destination: Cambodia

Year: 2023

Part-funded by the Go Abroad Fund

Students on a a hike

Cathal's Story

Aquaponics is a very useful agricultural system, as it yields up to three times the crops per square foot on average compared to typical soil culture. It is particularly effective in rural Cambodia where the rainy and hot seasons make growing vegetables in the ground difficult. Aquaponics systems can operate year-round and provide local families with food, both fish and vegetables, to eat and to sell for profit. By doing so, these systems help tackle the major problems of malnutrition and food security. 

On our days off, we had the opportunity to travel around Cambodia. We visited the capital Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and the spectacular island of Koh Rong Sanleom. We also saw the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat and the beautiful Phnom Kulen National Park. It was important for the team to understand the impact that the Khmer Rouge regime had on Cambodia, so we paid a visit to The Cambodian Genocide Museum – a very emotional and chilling experience. 

I’m extremely grateful for the funding I received from the Go Abroad Fund. By volunteering in Cambodia, I gained an insight into the environmental challenges of this developing country and gained invaluable hands-on experience and developed my skill-set. It was amazing to witness the social and economic benefits of aquaponics systems in a local community who faced challenges surrounding food and financial security. Living and working in a local community was an enriching experience, although at times it was challenging. We were exposed to many aspects of a local culture vastly different to our own, and shared our wooden shack with mosquitoes, scorpions, and spiders. Despite these stark differences in local culture, I loved every minute of my time in Cambodia. I am grateful to the Community First team who welcomed us with open arms and taught us so much, including some of the Khmer language and Cambodian cuisine! We left Cambodia with lifelong memories and a deep appreciation for this beautiful country and its people. 

I’m extremely grateful for the funding I received from the Go Abroad Fund. By volunteering in Cambodia, I gained an insight into the environmental challenges of this developing country and gained invaluable hands-on experience and developed my skill-set.

CathalUniversity of Edinburgh Student

 

Go Abroad Fund

The Go Abroad Fund provides financial support for students to undertake a short-term international educational experience during summer months.  

Find out more about the Go Abroad Fund:

Go Abroad Fund