Leonardo Viapiana, a Blue Yonder associate in Italy, traveled to Cambodia to volunteer his time to improve health and provide educational services. He shares his involvement with an Italian-based non-profit organization, Missione Possibile, and their social efforts that aim to help ensure fundamental human rights for those deprived of the necessary resources to maintain a living. Leonardo feels fortunate for his experience and encourages everyone to make an impact while they can.

When reflecting on my volunteer trip to Cambodia, I look back on the intense yet rewarding experiences I endured. It was my first time traveling to the other side of the world, and I was soaking in a very different environment from my own. I have always cherished the moments spent trying to create a positive impact on communities so near and dear to me. This time was no exception, and I was eager to be on my way to a country that needed help.

Almost 40 years ago, Cambodia experienced the second largest human genocide in history and nearly 3 million people were tortured and brutally killed. For decades, primary needs for a significant part of the population, like education and health, have been dramatically neglected. Although they currently enjoy substantial economic progress, it’s still considered amongst the weakest nations in the Asian region, with almost 30% living below the poverty line. Despite interventions against mistreatment and abuse, many children are orphans, deprived of basic medical care, and malnourished.

With this information, I decided to commit myself to volunteer work that I felt could make a difference. It was time to stop supporting from afar and instead, act in person. As a proud supporter of Missione Possibile, I traveled to Cambodia to be part of their school project and assist with the mobile clinic.

I was part of a group of seven volunteers who traveled from Italy to support the local staff made up of doctors, teachers, drivers, and other school coordinators. We spent most of our time in the Roong Village, a remote community in Takeo Province approximately 90 minutes from Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. We did everything from teaching in the schools, to distributing food and clothes in the poor villages, to supporting the mobile clinic.  

Today more than 600 children attend primary, middle, and high school classes through Missione Possibile. Before the primary school was built in 2005, there was no school or educational establishment in that area. My team and I were ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work on improving the health and wellness, both mentally and physically, of these young children.

Every day we visited the students with a huge smile because we knew they were just waiting for us to spend some quality time with them, whether it was distributing fresh fruit for their breakfasts, teaching English, or doing some physical activity in the courtyard. Every minute spent with and for them was precious and unique.

The mobile clinic consists of a doctor, a nurse, and a driver, which currently operates four times a week in several locations in and around Phnom Penh. The clinic provides health screenings and medication and reports severe cases to the local hospital. Without this clinic, the individuals it serves would be without access to medical facilities. Today, thousands of Cambodians get free access to medication and visits.

During the mobile clinic, we spent time playing with the children and distributing clothes and toys. Seeing how grateful those children were, despite the terrible conditions, made me realize how blessed I am and how important it is to keep looking out for those in need. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Experiences like these can help make the world a better place, even if it’s one small action at a time. Although many of these intense experiences can be rewarding and life changing, I still believe that traveling to a foreign country isn’t necessary to make a substantial impact. Still, I hope people choose to get uncomfortable and understand the abundance of possibilities for creating impactful experiences.

Blue Yonder offers associates two Volunteer Time Off days to dedicate to charities of their choice. We encourage all associates to show why they are #BYProud of their contributions outside of their profession.