Volunteer Chat: Jen Scantlebury, HR Expert

Jen Scantlebury, a human resources consultant from Australia, arrived at Cambodian Children’s Fund in August. Her work has invaluable to the staff, as she’s been helping establish a long-term sustainable plan for CCF. She’s enjoyed the volunteer work so much that she’s decided to stay on for half a year longer than originally planned. Here, she talks about her experiences in Cambodia.

How did you find out about CCF and become involved?

I was very inspired by the work of CCF and the energy and positivity of Scott and the CCF staff team, when I saw the ‘Australian Story’ and ‘Poh’s Kitchen Lends a Hand’ on Australian TV. When I came to Cambodia with my partner for (initially) six months, I wanted to immerse myself as much as I could in Phnom Penh life, learning about what it was like to live here, not as a tourist.

I also wanted to contribute and learn from the amazingly resilient and highly engaging Cambodian people. When I expressed interest in CCF as a volunteer, I was absolutely delighted to be warmly welcomed, offered exciting and meaningful work, to get a change to meet the incredibly happy and gorgeous CCF kids, be able to build relationships with the very talented and committed CCF team members and to receive so much affirmation for what I do. I totally love CCF and my role here.

What has surprised you most about living and working in Cambodia?

What has surprised me has been the positivity and fun of Cambodian people – some people are very poor, have unbelievable sadness in their past and have huge challenges but it has been a joy to chat with people in the street who don’t want anything but some laughs and a conversation with us. The Cambodian people, in my experience, are so resilient and, in this very complex society, seem to be able to enjoy life in the simplest ways….you should see the way staff get together for a big lunchtime cooking and eating adventure!

By the time you leave, what do you hope to accomplish at CCF?

This is a big question because I feel that I am getting so much from CCF . As well as offering my experience and opinions, I hope that I can bring CCF staff together to develop and strengthen clear and helpful processes and systems, which will support enhanced CCF efficiency. I am try to share approaches which have worked for me in the past, but am very aware that CCF staff are the experts here and it’s great to engage in conversations, workshops and meetings where we share ideas and learn from each other. We have already developed a three year HR strategy together and I look forward to continuing our engagement as we work on the initiatives we’ve identified in this strategy

You’ve worked closely with CCF in all levels and departments. How has the experience been so far?

CCF staff are very hard working and extremely committed to CCF, which they all love dearly. The expression “I work from the heart” is one I have heard so many times and it is very delightful and meaningful to work alongside people who have such values and strive to do the best for the CCF children, families and community. I sit in a very open area and everyone is so friendly…starting the day with so many greetings is a great way to get you in the mood to do a good day’s work. I am also stimulated and energised by CCF staff, who bring curiosity and a genuine desire to learn and improve themselves, CCF and Cambodia in general. Professional development is high on most CCF staff member’s wish list and it’s a privilege to be able to contribute in a small way to professional learning and development here

What’s the one thing you think you’ll miss most when you return home?

OH…many things. That is why we have extended our visit for another six months! I will miss the warmth and appreciation, so generously offered here at CCF. I will also miss the way we can live more simply and easily here and of course yummy Fish Amok!

Interested in volunteering? Find out more.


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