Staff Interview – Maria Moreno, Cambodia Manager

Staff Interview – Maria Moreno, Cambodia Manager

What position do you hold at Inspire?

I am the Cambodia Country Manager. I’m here to make sure volunteers have an amazing time while they are in Cambodia and that our programs make a positive impact in the communities that we serve. I work closely with program partners to identify community needs and develop engaging volunteer projects.

What did you do before you started working for Inspire?

I worked as an on-site intern with the Thailand team for five months in 2013 prior to taking the position of Cambodia Country Manager in January 2014. Prior to my time in Asia, I worked with various community organizations working on human and civil rights issues in both the U.S. and Chile.

What inspires you most on a daily basis?

I would say there are two main things that motivate me: working with local partners and working with volunteers. I love seeing the impact that Inspire’s programmes have in the community and building strong relationships with our local partners.

I also love working with volunteers and accompanying them through their journey of discovering a new place, trying new foods, expanding their horizons and growing as an individual.

What should participants know about Cambodia when considering it as their volunteer abroad destination? 

Cambodia has some of the nicest, warmest people in the world – it even competes with Thailand for the title of “the land of smiles”.

I think some volunteers have been surprised with the amount of development in Cambodia. They expect to be out in the countryside without access to internet or many modern comforts. There is quite a mix in Cambodia – between the old traditional lifestyle and the modern lifestyle. You can easily spend time in the countryside without running water and then go to the city where you can readily get access to wi-fi and eat a wide array of western and local food.

It’s also worth noting that Cambodia is HOT! So be prepared for the heat and humidity. During the months of July-October is also the monsoon season where there is quite a bit of rain. If you are planning to come during the rainy season, be sure to bring a raincoat and plenty of mosquito repellent.

What makes the Inspire programmes in Cambodia so unique and special?

There are a wide range of programmes in Cambodia, which makes it a unique place to come and volunteer. Whether you’re interested in volunteering at a medical clinic, developing a sustainable garden, teaching English, playing sport, or getting involved with our women’s empowerment programme – you can do it all in Cambodia! Our programs are based in the lush Cambodian countryside, giving you a unique glimpse into day-to-day life. The city of Battambang is also laid-back and a great place to meet some amazing people and get away from the tourist traps!

Prakriti Malhotra is the founding director of Inspire. She has over 12 years’ experience helping individuals plan their overseas volunteering trips whether it be for their gap year, a sabbatical from work or a post retirement adventure.
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