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Current Volunteers



If you wish to volunteer, please email:

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English Teacher

Recommended duration: 2 weeks +

Follow recommended curriculum with an emphasis on making sure students truly understand the material as well as completing exercises. Lots of independence and scope for extra activities. Lessons should be fun and lively.

Classroom Assistant

Recommended duration: 3 days +

Usually accompanied by a donation of some sort, come and help our teachers in the classroom, giving individual students more attention and helping to organize the lessons.

General Assistant - Administration/Operations/Social Media

Recommended duration: 4 weeks +

Assistant to director, you will have the responsibility to handle day-to-day issues, emails, website and social media updates as well as tackle a longer term project to help improve the general health of the school through increased publicity. May also fill in for teachers in their absence/where needed.

Recommended Projects:

Develop social media content strategy on Facebook/other platforms, profiling education/tourism in Siem Reap and Cambodia.

Create and publish blog on behalf of the school on day-to-day activities, events, student + teacher profiles.

Organise a fundraising event to generate money for the school.




SHAC is always looking for volunteers willing to give their time and talents to benefit the children of Siem Reap. Previous volunteers have helped out in a variety of ways, teaching English, playing with the kids or lending a hand with simple administrative projects, for example. We accept volunteers of all ages and nationalities. Teaching experience or knowledge of Khmer language are not necessary. Oftentimes a little bit of help with pronunciation goes a long way with the students. Donations are appreciated but not required for volunteering at SHAC.

Longer-term volunteers are more likely to develop close relationships and make permanent impacts with students, but SHAC does not require a minimum time commitment. Some volunteers stay for a year, others are here for just a few days. Any time you can give is appreciated. Unfortunately, SHAC does not have the resources to offer housing for volunteers, but we have a relationship with several nearby guesthouses and hotels and can arrange long-term commission-free accommodation that will suit any budget.

While SHAC volunteers have had a huge impact on the lives of local children, they often report that the benefits go both ways. Here are some testimonials from volunteers:



Your love and compassion for the children, their families and the Cambodian communities is reflected in the stable and affectionate school you run. Thank you for being so generous with all that you have. You make a difference!


Yours in Education, Wendy Train, Canada


Being at Smiling Hearts Association for Children has been an amazing experience, I   have learned a lot, not have I learned about a culture I didn't know almost anything about, I have also met the most welcoming, respectful, good and smiling people, the Cambodians. The school is doing a great job, giving children an opportunity in life, that they might not have if it wasn't for this beautiful little school and it's wonderful director, Aly, who works very hard in order to keep everything going, despite the lack of facilities we take for granted in our home country.


It has been a real pleasure to be part of this little community and I sincerely hope to come back here sometime soon. This place fills you with the best energy and all I can do when I think of Smiling Hearts Association for Children, is smile :)

Marie Sol Elexpuru, Spain

Volunteering at Smiling Hearts Association for Children was one of the best things that I did while traveling through South East Asia. Working with Aly, the director, was a truly wonderful learning experience. She is dedicated to her students, her volunteers, and her community. She is a wonderful leader. Teaching the local students was an exciting adventure! Always energetic, always smiling and ready to learn, the students made teaching in Cambodia an educational experience of a lifetime!

Olivia Swisher, USA


It was a great pleasure to have been the first English teachers at the Smiling Hearts Association For Children School. Of course, it is always slightly daunting to meet a new class of children of different ages and abilities. It took a little while to get used to the different levels but the children were an absolute delight to teach. They gave us so much pleasure and we were sad to leave. Since our first day, there have been several changes to the school that have made a considerable difference. There is an extra classroom, which means children can now be split into another group. This makes it much easier, as some can start with the ABC's then the next group who can make sentences and finally those who are more advanced. I am very happy that they are now in these groups, as the children will have more chance to improve. We wish Aly, all her helpers and the children good luck for the future.

Love John and Rick , UK


Teaching English at SHAC has been a tremendous opportunity to connect with Cambodia and her people. Before coming to Siem Reap, I traveled through Thailand, becoming disillusioned with tourism; I felt like just another cog in the machine. I found it difficult to get a sense of the local culture by simply hanging out with other Western tourists and sight seeing. Come volunteer in Cambodia; there is so much to be done, and any help you can provide will be appreciated. The children are polite, happy and ready to learn. Acquiring English as a second language will be an immense benefit to their lives. Hope to see you soon!

Dru from USA

We were introduced to Aly and S.H.A.C. by About Asia and were instantly overwhelmed by the incredible progress and positive attitude that this school has made in just four months.

Aly, the Director, is an incredible lady with unstoppable passion and this is reflected in the three classroom school and playground, which she has built in her own garden. Dedication is an understatement and the rewards are seen best in the children. Their happiness is priceless and the efforts that every child makes to learn, attend classes and even arrive up to two hours before classes just to clean, is so humbling. They just want to be there and really do ask for nothing more - only permission to attend the classes and be given an opportunity they would otherwise not have.

S.H.A.C. relies solely on private donors and volunteers. It is supported by several Cambodian volunteers who help out before/after a long day at work. We have seen firsthand how donations take effect and how quickly it takes for Aly and her team to implement the necessary developments, such as building a new well one day after receiving the kind donation. It has been a privilege to work here and without a shadow of doubt, both Judith and I will be in contact for many moons to come and look forward to seeing how S.H.A.C.'s children grow up happier, healthier and more educated for it.

Thank you to the children for such a rewarding teaching experience.

Martin & Judith, LONDON, UK

It has been my privilege and honor to teach the students of and participate in the educationally vibrant environment of Smiling Hearts Association For Children. This project is so necessary and well done.


Andy. USA



This is one of my dreams to become a teacher, and it came true. Before the first lesson I am a bit stressed because I don't think that I can teach the students. I believe my level in English is not perfect, but nothing to worry about if you have confidence. It's a very rewarding experience.




My name is Mel from the Australia. Teaching English at Smiling Hearts is a lot of fun. The kids are really well-behaved and eager to learn. I love to see them get excited when they see us coming in each day to teach them. There is a really friendly atmosphere here, and the kids come in early before class because they love the school and are able to play with their friends. I have loved my first few days at Smiling Hearts and I'm glad I can spend a few more weeks here.

Melissa, Brodrick ( Mel ), Australia


My name is Liam, from Australia. The first time I came to the school, I was very nervous. However after the first lesson the students made me feel very welcome. They are very well mannered and love to learn. I would urge anyone who wants to volunteer to get involved with Smiling Hearts, as it is a very rewarding experience.




My name is Denise from the UK. I was introduced to Aly by Scott from Trailblazers whilst on holiday in Siem Reap. Initially I was a little reluctant and anxious about working with children because I had not done this type of work before, however, I could see the merits in the project and that they needed help so I decided to give it ago. I volunteered for 8 days and absolutely loved it. The whole atmosphere of SHAC was very warm, supportive and welcoming and the children were so endearing.

Miss you all and I hope to return soon x


I first went to visit SHAC last weekend to ask about volunteering and I could hardly believe what had been achieved in such a short time. But then I spoke to Aly and I realised how it had happened. She is full of energy and enthusiasm for this project. It's in her blood. On Monday I met the students and the other volunteers and the picture was complete. It feels more than a school - it's a mini community. I am teaching grade 2 and the children are fantastic. They're so keen to learn. They write everything down and all are willing and eager to stand up in class, read aloud or write on the board. I have been at SHAC for 3 days now and am loving it. I enjoy thinking up different games to help the kids to learn. I'm only here for another 6 days and wish I could stay longer. Anyone in Siem Reap should visit SHAC to see the amazing things Aly and her team are doing and buy a t-shirt! I love it and it will be a perfect reminder of my time here :)

Karen from Bristol, UK


My name is Sandra. Smiling Hearts became my choice for my volunteering, as I had the chance to meet Aly, whose mind bubbles with plans and schemes and love for the kids. I can hardly think of any better principal for those wonderful children. She created not only a school there, but a real community where you can feel that all the kids find a second home at least for 2 hours a day.

Teaching the children, which I am doing for the first time in my life, is a wonderful experience! It gets strenuous for my voice and my nerves at times;), but this is nothing compared to what I get in return. The hugs that you get at and end of a lesson, the flowers they bring you on the way home, the smiles they spread so generously.

I feel very blessed being able to teach here - not only because I had the chance to earn enough money being able to come here and spend it for this volunteering, but also having a chance to meet these wonderfull kids, a great principal and to make this unique experience. Whoever thinks of doing this - please just go for it! You don't need to be a professional English teacher or a native speaker (which I'm not myself). You'll be able to teach the first or even third grade enough with a proper English knowledge. The kids get a chance to learn a lot and you'll learn and experience a lot too! Smiling Hearts is not just a name! You can feel the smiling hearts in this small and touching surrounding.


Teaching at SHAC has to be one of the amazing things I have experienced in my life! Although it didn't last very long, the two weeks I was here made me realize how much these kids need education. All of them are very eager to learn and their presentation, despite everything they lack, is simply awe-inspiring. For these children, education is a privilege. I'm glad I could give a little bit back of what I got as a child, and I wish I had more time and the means to do more for them and the school. Would I recommend to teach at SHAC?? Yes !!!

Rofika Ismail


The time I spent teaching at Smiling Hearts Association for Children was a rewarding and remarkable experience. I was more than inspired by the eagerness of the students to learn and their perseverance despite their circumstances. I was also very touched by their kindness and affection towards each other and towards me. They taught me a big lesson on how to be a good teacher. Because the school relies so heavily on donations for supplies and volunteers for teachers, I would urge you to help in anyway that you can. The children will really appreciate your support and they will make it known. They're such lovely hearts!

Love from Rose Vu


Mark & I have loved every minute we've spent here at SHAC. We were originally going to volunteer for 3 weeks but extended our stay to a month because the cause is so important and being here is so rewarding. From teaching in the classrooms to spending time with the children; from lesson planning out of school hours to learning more about real Cambodian lives; we've gained so much from helping out here.

Aly and her family of children look after you and ensure you feel comfortable and happy for the duration of your stay. The school may rely on charity from others but whatever it lacks in funding, SHAC certainly makes up for in the love, care and trust that all of the children offer on a daily basis. They are funny, engaging and always smiling; quite simply, they're brilliant kids and make every day spent teaching worthwhile.

At SHAC Aly has put her time & effort into building not only a school but a family & community for everyone who attends here - be it as a student, a teacher or someone who stops by for a couple of hours. If you can't help out in person then please make a donation as your good deed for the day. No school is more deserving!

Kirsty Evans from Birmingham, UK & Mark Strachan from Glasgow, UK

I came to Smiling Hearts with no previous teaching or volunteer experience and had no idea of what to expect. Although slightly daunting at first, I have now taught here for three weeks and the staff and children have been so friendly and welcoming that I have loved every day here.

The school director, Aly, and her family dedicate all their time to the school which has been unbelievably built in their own back garden. The children from the surrounding village that attend are the most generous, gentle and caring people I have ever met, despite a lot of their situations being incredibly unfortunate. It's so impressive how eager these children are to learn English and how proud and enthusiastic they are about Smiling Hearts School. These children are so underprivileged yet have the ability to have fun at the school. They have made me laugh every single lesson I have taught here.

Aly and her staff are so appreciative of any donation - big or small, whether it's your time to help teach the kids, money to aid the running of the school or a simple set of colouring pencils for the children to draw pictures with. With funding solely from donations, this is a cause where every little thing really can help them.

I will miss this adorable place which serves such an amazing purpose - providing children with an invaluable skill in learning English that is not provided for them by their government. Not only this but it gives these children a sense of hope and pride: that they belong as part of a collective unit and can come to this school to learn and play together and just enjoy having fun being children. Thank you Smiling Hearts for an amazing few weeks, you are all very special people and I will never forget you and the work that is done here.

Rosie Manson, London, UK


Working at SHAC is an unforgettable experience where you can develop amazing relationships with both students and teachers. It's a beautiful place where children are given the opportunity to grow, develop and learn as children in a safe environment. As a volunteer, I would be surprised if you didn't grow as a person too. Seeing firsthand how the donation of time, money and school supplies literally changes these children's lives in both humbling and inspiring. Being a part of that ... words don't do the experience justice. You need to come and experience this for yourself.

Love from Carole

I have really enjoyed the three weeks that I have been teaching at Smiling Hearts. The children are so enthusiastic and sweet and sometimes a bit crazy;)! I love them! The other teachers are lovely too. Aly, you are doing an amazing job. I love it how you just started a school in your own backyard. That makes Smiling Hearts a very sustainable organization run really by and for the community. Please keep up your great work!

I am very sorry I have to leave. If I come back to Cambodia, I will sure go back to teach at Smiling Hearts!

Love, Esther

Volunteering at Smiling Hearts School has been the highlight of my round-the-world trip. I was a little nervous before arriving at the school as I was unsure of what to expect. There was no need to be nervous - I was welcomed into the school like an old friend. Aly and the team showed me around and before I knew it, I was teaching.

ABCs to a group of smiling, happy and enthusiastic children. I teach Grade 1 in the morning, which is full of fun. The group's age ranges from 6 years to 12 years and they are full of character and warmth. In the afternoon I teach Grade 3, the most advanced in English. I enjoy the conversations we have I hope that I am teaching good English. They are so bright that they often correct my misspellings! Overall I can't recommend Smiling Hearts school enough - it's a fantastic place to spend time. The school is part of the local community. It has been built in the garden of Aly's house and it serves the two villages surrounding it. The children love to learn and would not get the opportunity to learn English if Aly had not opened the school. Smiling Hearts is a very special place and will stay in my heart long after I leave. : )


Since the very first day I arrived, I was mesmerized by the enthusiasm of the children at Smiling Hearts. As soon as I walked through the gate I was welcomed by smiling and singing children. I have noticed the children are very eager to learn - they're musical and cheerful. Every day we (the children and I) have learned something new, laughed and had so much fun together. It has been an amazing and inspiring experience to have been working for Smiling Hearts.

Aly is a generous and caring person with a big heart. She does everything she can to empower, educate and give hope to her 130 children. She loves them as if they were her own. I think she is a wonderful role model for the Cambodian villagers in Siem Reap.

It has been a mutual learning experience and we've learned so much along the way. I hope to come back some day soon.


Hi Aly and everyone at Smiling Hearts!! I am not sure if the flooding has gone down or if you are back to school yet, but just wanted to say thank you again for welcoming me so kindly to Smiling Hearts and for all your help the past two months. I had an absolutely amazing, life changing time and I have been telling everyone about the great work you are all doing there. I am proud to have been part of it and would love to return some day. I am only sad that I didn't get to say goodbye to my beautiful children before I left. I wonder if, when school resumes, you could read out the message below to my morning and afternoon class. Thanks so much :)

Best, Lisa


Hi, I am Margot, from France. It is a pleasure to come to Smiling Hearts Association for Children every day and spend times with those children. The Khmer teachers are very friendly, courageous and helpful. I have been teaching at Smiling Hearts for 3 weeks now and I really hope to come back on my next time in Siem Reap. The school is getting bigger and there is always more children coming. If you think staying in Siem Reap for a while, come and give a bit of your time to teach those children who really need it !!!

Love from Margot : )

I have been working at Smiling Hearts Association for Children (SHAC) for just over two weeks and have absolutely loved my experience so far. Everybody is so lovely and welcoming and there is a great atmosphere in the school. The children are fantastic - well-behaved, well-mannered and extremely keen to learn. The rewards for teaching these children are great and they are so appreciative of every thing. It is brilliant to see what has been achieved in just over a year and I can't wait to see what will happen over the next couple of months that I will be volunteering here.

Love Jenny from UK


Hello, I'm Julien. I've taught in school before. It has been a refreshing and eye-opening experience for me here. There is such enthusiasm being amongst so many of these children. Thank you to Smiling Hearts for Children (SHAC).





I have felt truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to share some time with a group of such beautiful and inspiring individuals. It has been one of the most fulfilling and special experiences I have ever had. My only regret is not having the time to stay longer! To those of you traveling through Siem Reap, who wish to do something positive and rewarding, come down to Smiling Hearts Association for Children and meet the director, staff and the children. You will not be disappointed. Thank you and farewell Aly and all at Smiling Hearts. Hopefully see you in 2012.

Chris Coombes, Somerset, UK

Having never really worked in a school before, naturally on my first day I was quite nervous. This was unfounded, as the children and staff were perfectly welcoming and a joy to be around. What Aly has achieved is inspiring and I hope to return to the school in the future.

Clare Fearm, Somerset , UK




A firm believer that all children deserve a free high quality education, volunteering to teach English at Smiling Hearts Association for Children was a no-brainer. My time teaching at SHAC has been the most rewarding experience during my time abroad. The school Director Aly is 100% committed to her students. The staff is unbelievably friendly and the kids are an utter joy to be with everyday. Even if you can only offer a day or two of your time, I urge you to come down to Smiling Hearts and see the magic that happens here everyday. You won't regret it!

Sabastian Turner, Evanston, IL USA

I hadn't planed on doing volunteer English teaching on this trip but two and a half weeks later I regretfully have to say goodbye to Smiling Hearts and all of the smart kids and staff I've met. But I will return one day, as this has been one of the most full filling experiences of my life. I highly recommend Smiling Hearts Association for Children to anyone who wants to help out and improve the lives of this children. You will not regret it.


Ryan Mosby


I am very happy to have met Aly and the teachers at Smiling Hearts and to be able to share in helping children to learn to speak and write in English. The children are all so wonderful, helping and loving. I had not taught before and was a bit nervous, but I have learned and grown from the experience. I am glad to have had the opportunity to help and I will probably to come back to help again in the future. The school does a lot to help the children with minimal resources. I encourage others to give either their time or their money to help.

Gillian Corkery, Australia

To all of those people who are considering volunteer teaching work in Cambodia, I have spent the better part of a month volunteer teaching for Smiling Hearts School. And I can not express how rewarding it has been. It is amazing to see the amount of dedication and charity that goes into this program. The community is so welcoming, and the staff and students are so supportive, that I can not imagine spending my time elsewhere. There are times when you remember where these children come from and it make your heart hurt. But it is also difficult to imagine that these beautiful kids who are so hungry to learn - so joyous and loving - could come from such tough backgrounds. It is inspiring to see their efforts, and it is truly special to be a part of their lives. The experience of knowing each of the children by name, knowing their character, what makes them laugh, and what makes them learn, is amazing. When I speak to friends and family about any given student, everything lights up. I will miss each of them dearly and only hope that others will help them as well. It is the most charitable thing I've done in my life and by far the most enjoyable volunteering experience I've had. Again, I can not express in words how special Smiling Hearts is for the community and how incredible it is to be a part of this wonderful program !!!


Witnessing the work that Aly and her staff do everyday to create better lives for local children has been an incredibly inspiring experience. The enthusiasm of the students is equally as inspiring and the classes are so much fun. I really look forward to teaching each day. It is so important that these children are exposed to English early on, as it sets them up to succeed later in life. I have been volunteering for two weeks now and I only wish that we could have stayed longer. It will be hard to say good bye next week! If you're interested in volunteering in Cambodia and want to be a part of a really effective project, I strongly recommend coming to SHAC!

All the best, Jill from USA

I have just completed one's month with Smiling Hearts Association for Children ( SHAC)and can honestly say it was one of the best experiences I have had to date. It is a small school of consisting of 4 classrooms teaching from grade 1 to grade 4 and 130 children aged between 5 - 15. On my first morning I was introduced to the 4 other volunteers and I was encouraged straight away to assist one of the fellow teachers with the morning class. The class times run from 9:00 to 11:00 am with a 15 minute break in between and then classes resume again at 3:00 until 5:00 pm again with a short break in between. The first time I walked into the class I was pleasantly surprised at the politeness of the children and how wonderfully sweet they were. Ricky, the other volunteer put me at ease straight away by guiding me through her methods of teaching so I quickly felt confident. Over the 4 weeks, I developed my own way, which was often playing with new vocabulary in the 1st session and playing games in the 2nd session. I had a different group in the morning to the afternoon. After 4 days at the school, I was already starting to feel at home and building a fun and respectful relationship with my students. However, it was one the 4th day that Aly took me through the register and explained the stories of some of the children and I must admit I felt very naive and humbled hearing this. I saw the children in a different light and felt different walking back into class. The children play happily and though their concentration can sometimes slip in the heat. They want to learn and they want to have fun. We did have lots of fun and laughter in my time with them and it is an experience I will never forget. I also appreciated the assistance of Aly's 2 Cambodian teaching assistants who had a sound grasp of English and were extremely helpful in bridging gaps in communication with the children and would also offer assistance any time I required it. I will certainly be returning to the school at some point in the future to see the progress of this young school and its students. I wish Aly and her team every success in making this a successful, positive and structured facility for the development of children who victims of HIV, orphaned or are living in poverty.

Many thanks, Gemma

Volunteering at Smiling Hearts has been a hugely rewarding experience that I'd recommend to anyone of any age. The kids are full of energy and enthusiasm. The classrooms are very basic, but with the spirit the children bring, all you need is a good grasp of the English language, patience and the ability to improvise. Aly (The Director) is a wonderful woman who strives to provide all she can for the students. I will continue to support her cause after I leave as I think the work she's doing in Siem Reap is incredible.

Many Thanks,

Paul Burgum

Unfortunately I only allowed myself 2 weeks to teach at Smiling Hearts but I could have easily stayed here for another month. The school is very basic, but its the people/volunteers involved and the enthusiastic children are the ones who make this school such a great place. I have taught children in Australia before but this is a completely different experience - the children are full of energy and willing to learn anything you throw at them. I plan on continuing to support Smiling Hearts as the work that Aly and all the other volunteers do is so important to the kids future. If you're thinking about doing this, then do it; you won't regret it.

Thanks for everything Smiling Hearts and I'll be back, Tom McNicol

Thank you Aly !

Many thanks for providing us with an educational and rewarding experience!

The faculty and students of San Francisco State University.

May 26.2012

I have spent 2 weeks so far teaching as a volunteer here in Smiling Hearts Association for Children School and I can honestly say it has been a truly amazing experience.

The school is brilliantly run by Aly and her staff, who are all extremely helpful and appreciative. They make the time I teach run smoothly and make it so enjoyable. There are great resources available to the children from the school but I feel the school can benefit always from donations, as it does wonderful educating the local children here.

The children are of course full of wonderful spirit and it is so enjoyable teaching them. I have been teaching part of Grade 1 so far, which includes some of the youngest children. It has been so much fun spending my time teaching them. It has been a truly rewarding experience. Nianh


I've been teaching in Smiling Hearts for two weeks now and so far it has been a fantastic experience. Aly and her staff could not be more welcoming and helpful. The school has a fantastic vision and will have a brighter future. The children are lively and enthusiastic in class get involved in the lessons as much as they can and I think they will benefit greatly from the extra English classes.

I would advise anybody to volunteer at the school for a couple of weeks to experience the wonderful work they do here and to get to know the beautiful children that go to school here.

Kate English, Ireland

I have really enjoyed my time here in Smiling Hearts. We were greeted with the warmest of welcomes from both staff and children alike. The work the school and staff do on a daily basis is amazing. They work tirelessly to support the volunteers in every way possible, in particular in translating between the children and volunteers when difficulties arise.

The children themselves are what have made the experience so special. They are so eager to learn and especially when it involves singing and dancing. My time here will stay with me forever for these reasons.

Amy Young


Dear Aly, Firstly, thank you for providing me with this fantastic opportunity to teach at your school - SHAC. I have enjoyed every day that I've spent with the children singing, reading and learning together. As much as they have learned from me, I have learn from them. SHAC, you, the staff, and the children has made an impact in my life. It has allowed me to gain a different perspective on life. I want to and will continue volunteering. :) Secondly, I'd like to thank you for setting up such a wonderful school to give education. I also have much to learn from you - your dreams, goals and aspirations. I pray for the day to come that your vision of education for Cambodians will one day be realized. Thank you Mrs. Aly

Your truly,



My experience in Smiling Hearts can not be described through words and one would only understand this feeling after teaching the children at Smiling Hearts. Although I must admit that my experience at Smiling Hearts was not all smooth. I was in charge of teaching the kids in Grade 1 and these kids had no foundation in English at all. I had a lots of difficulty trying convey simple instructions across. However the kids were really eager to learn and were very enthusiastic about learning new words and songs! There are some children in my class who even take down notes for clarity when they are not sure. This is rare in a 9- or 10-year-old kids and this shows how much these Cambodian kids want to improve themselves. Besides teaching, the staff at SHAC are also very friendly and welcoming. One at the staff, Aly, even went the extra mile and woke up at 4 a.m. in the morning just to accompany my friend and I to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Thanks to SHAC I had an enjoyable time in Siem Reap and I really hope the kids benefit from my teaching. :)



My name is Yoshe Watson and I am from Scotland. I was introduced to Smiling Hearts School by About Asia. From the moment I arrived at the school, I loved it. Aly is a truly inspiring person who has a clear passion for the children and the school. It is so wonderful to be in a place where children are encouraged and happy. After teaching the Grade 4 class for 3 weeks, I am very sad to leave such brilliant children. They are enthusiastic and kind. I have found the experience for volunteering incredibly rewarding, and I hope to return in the future. I would highly recommend volunteering with SHAC to anybody who has a passion for Cambodia and children - it is an amazing and inspiring experience.

Love, Yoshe .

For more then two months, this trip was prepared meticulously. While the day of departure from Portugal was approaching, the expectations and anxiety were growing bigger. In fact, there was the feeling in the air that some things were about to change for better and forever. However, this feeling only reached its peak when I first entered the Smiling Hearts's classroom. Fifteen pairs of eyes gazing at me and smiling; it is really intimidating at first glance.

"Good morning Teacher! How are you today?", they said in chorus. The anxiety was then quickly overtaken by the need to act. I started the class introducing my self, just to have to stop when their laughs filled the room when they heard my name - really strange here. On the first day, I faced some difficulties. The class not only had difference ages but also different levels of development, but I quickly got used to it. Their smiles and sincere appreciation for my work and effort forced me to it - adapting as soon as possible. Smiling Hearts is exactly that: a huge mixture of smiles, efforts, people's struggles and stories. Everything here is won slowly. First come smiles, then hugs and kisses, later drawings and bracelets of appreciation and, in the future, will certainly bring the tears. Mine, at least. These children's lives aren't easy at all, but they still don't stop smiling and fighting for a second. This makes us think how easy our lives actually are. The truth is that I have known more of the world in two weeks here than in any other experience in my life. Thank you for that!! My initial feeling was right.

Ins Sousa from Orienting .org ( Portugal )

To all of the people who are considering volunteer teaching work in Cambodia, I have spent three amazing months as an English teacher in Smiling Hearts. I cannot express in words how I enjoyed teaching my students. They are clever, dedicated, responsible, and are always willing to work hard. When volunteering abroad, one should be very careful when choosing the organization to help. SHAC is the one of the best options, since it is completely clear in everything it does with the children and with the money, which is always used to help improve the school facilities, the kids or to pay the staff's salary that works a lot during the whole week. Mrs. Somaly San, the director of the school, is an honest person who works hard everyday to help these children and their families. The role of Smiling Hearts in this community is crucial and its impact on these children's future is amazing and very important.

Thank you all for this incredible experience! I already miss you all!
Filipe Estrela, Orienting.org (Portugal)

I've been traveling around Asia for the past few years and this year Cambodia was the chosen one. What a beautiful country! The idea of doing volunteer work was already in my plans. When I arrived to Siem Reap I spent one day looking for a place where I could be useful. At the time I was told to be careful with some organizations that were not so trustful. Smiling Hearts was a real place. I had a meeting with Aly, the Director of the School, who immediately made me conclude this was the right place. Aly dedicates most of her life helping poor children and their families. If I had any doubts in that moment they disappeared. The work started the next day. I remember how scared I was in this first day: I didn't know how to begin. I entered the classroom and all the students stood up with a "Good morning Teacher". I started to introduce myself and when I told them I was an architect I understood that most of them didn't know what an architect was. In this moment the ice broke - their interest and curiosity amazed me. My legs weren't shaking anymore and this happened during the whole time. I began to know a little more about their lives and everything they've been through, but here in SHAC their smile and their big hugs made this a special place, a magical place. The break time was incredible, all the children playing and laughing, they were so sweet and kind, always asking if I wanted to play with them, I was already starting to feel at home. It was a truly rewarding experience and I have to thank Aly and the wonderful staff for these beautiful days.

I remember every moment with care and "saudade" (portuguese word that has a similar, but different meaning as nostalgia).

Marta, Portugal


Thank you to the wonderful staff and beautiful students of Smiling Hearts for a fabulous experience at your school. Congratulations Aly on the commitment you have to helping these children. You make my heart smile!

Suzanne Morgan, Australia



I had a wonderful opportunity to meet a very dynamic woman, Aly, who is changing the lives of many children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. She has started a charity school, Smiling Hearts, which I had the privilege of volunteering at during my 2 week stay in Siem Reap. The school has about 200 children attending. The children attend for either 2 hours in the morning or afternoon to study the English language. The children are very eager and excited about learning. Aly and all the volunteers are giving these children from underprivileged homes a love and respect for learning. This will lead them to a brighter future. If you are looking for a volunteer organization run with dedication and conviction this is a wonderful school with so many happy and friendly students and staff. Volunteering at the Smiling Hearts School brought so much meaning to my travels to Cambodia.


Dear Aly, Lucy, Nathaly, Christina, Sandra and the most of SHAC's family,

Had an amazing time with you guys at SHAC. Meeting all of you was without a doubt one of the highlights of my trip! I hope you all follow whatever it is that warms your heart, as meeting you surly warmed mine. Best of luck with everything and may your dreams come to life.

Hope to see you soon !


To Dear Aly & SHAC staff ,

You are doing amazing work. Keep it up. I wish deep from my heart that SHAC goes a long way. Lots & lots & lots of best wishes for a bright future.

Keep Smiling Always :)

From Payal ( India )




To Aly ,

It has been an honour and a privilege to visit and teach at Smiling Hearts. I have loved every minute here and it is very difficult to leave! Thank you so much for welcoming us to your wonderful school. I hope you have a fantastic term at school and many more in the future! Thank you again! I will never forget Smiling Hearts !! From Beth Anton XXX


Dear Aly ,

Thank you so much for welcoming me into your wonderful school. It is amazing that you started Smiling Hearts and how hard you work to make it such a success. I know the children will be forever grateful. I have loved my time at Smiling Hearts getting to know you and teaching the children. They are so eager to learn, fun-loving and respectful. This has been such an amazing experience - I wish I could stay longer! I will of course continue to support Smiling Hearts back in England. I wish you and the children good luck and good health for the future. God bless you. Thank you so much.

Love Sian xxxxx


We have returned to SHAC for the second time this year. We came in January and had such a wonderful time we decided to return again as soon as possible. Our family live in Dubai so we can travel on from there to Cambodia. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to appreciate the needs of kids here and to help them with their English. We are both retired so we have lots of time and this school is really a shining example. We love it and hope to return again in October later this year.

Adrian and Lynn Daley from Derbyshire England.


Volunteering at Smiling Hearts School has been the highlight of my trip. I was so happy to help Cambodian children learn English, which is really important for them to find a job later. Volunteering is a good way to understand the country. The kids are all lovely and love to come to SHAC everyday. In fact, it's a very friendly place where everybody feels immediately home. Aly, the director, is dedicated to her school, which was built in her backyard. She is a wonderful woman and a lovely mother for all the students. I would urge anyone who wants to volunteer to get involved with Smiling Hearts, as it is a very rewarding experience. I'm sad I couldn't stay longer, I'll miss you all.

Lise from France

Working at Smiling Hearts has been the most rewarding experience of our lives. The children at Smiling Hearts are absolutely wonderful; it has been refreshing to work with children who demonstrate such appreciation for your time and teaching. Director Aly has done a splendid job with the school and the children. For children of their age they have excellent manners which will surely benefit them later in life. In general, English children could learn a thing or two from the Smiling Hearts students. The link between the school and the volunteers is excellent, we all got on extremely well helping one another teach and support the children. We could not have hoped for more from our time in Cambodia - working at Smiling Hearts has been a life-changing experience. Thank you so much, Aly and the Smiling Hearts Association for Children for letting us into your world and your hearts and especially celebrating the Khmer New Year with you all. We hope to be back again as soon as we can and we wish you all the luck in the world for the future.

Sabrina and Alex from England



Aly and Everyone at SHAC.

Thank you so much for having us at the school , all the kids are great and we really admire what you're doing . We've had a wonderful time teaching them and getting to know them . Here is a donation from us all . Isobel , Jenny , Rachael , Clare , Emily, Anna and Zoe. Xxxx



December 20th 2016.

Dear Aly ,

Thank you so much for having us at Smiling Hearts , It has been a fantastic experience and one that I will remember forever . Please accept this donation and use it in whichever way you think will most benefit the school. Lastly , your hard work has amazed me , What you do is very admirable . I will keep in touch ! Best wishes ,

Kim Goodwin




December 20th , 2016

Dear Aly ,

Thank you very much for letting us volunteer at your beautiful school , The Children were a pleasure to teach and you were so welcoming ! The School is a fantastic place and I hope this small donation goes a long way . Thank you one again and I hope we see you sooner rather than later ! From Lucy Shaw