The Trailblazer Foundation
Siem Riep and surrounding areas | Cambodia
Cambodia-001 | Print This Position Description
There are three internship positions available, each requiring different skill sets and interests: Program Assistant, Agrictultural Assistant and Data Analyst. It is possible for three interns to be placed at The Trailblazer Foundation concurrently. Please see the position descriptions below.
About the Organization
Trailblazer Foundation was incorporated as a 501(c)3 in April 2004. Since then, the foundation has run highly successful programs in rural villages of Cambodia. These programs are guided by our Mission:
By providing training and appropriate technology, we empower rural villagers to create self sustaining programs. Our focus includes water projects, school construction, and community based development in order to foster healthy families, sufficient food and sustainable incomes.
We strive to preserve the cultural integrity of the villages we work in by using a participatory model of community-based development. This model allows the villagers to identify their needs and empowers them to work in partnership with us to find sustainable solutions to their most pressing needs.
Trailblazer staff works with village, commune and district level officials on a community development plan to address growth and meet the on-going needs of villagers. We use a bottom up-approach to sustainable projects, i.e. villagers identify their greatest challenges and possible solutions, which in turn sets the agenda for Trailblazer projects. This ensures they are invested in the successful outcome of the project. We emphasize the need for sustainability in order to reduce the need for ongoing international aid and ensure that during the monsoon season when they are most isolated, they are able to be self-sufficient.
Many of the rural villages in Siem Reap Province had little to no access to international aid prior to Trailblazer Foundation’s arrival. The result was residents of these villages suffered a high rate of disease, illiteracy and other devastating effects of lack of water, sanitation and food. Being the first to go into villages where there were no other Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), is a true definition of "trailblazing".
But our definition of trailblazing goes much deeper. Once we arrive within a village we work within the context of the Cambodian and village culture, establishing trust, fostering relationships and supporting the village infrastructure. We find that clean water, education and community/economic development are high priorities for alleviating poverty and increasing their quality of life in a sustainable manner.
We pursue projects that emphasize basic needs, health and sanitation, education and vocational training and which use appropriate technologies. As the basic need of water is met, Trailblazer works with village leadership to establish or enhance a village committee structure. These leaders ultimately manage the sustainability of projects without the need for ongoing international aid. We encourage and mentor villagers to develop their own village bank fund, which is a village-run micro-loan program built to foster sustainable economic development. This bottom-up approach gives villagers ownership and pride and leads to permanent success.
Five years after inception, Village Funds capital has grown to more than $5,500.00 USD, with over $500 generated in 2% simple interest. This is significant in a region where the average wage was less than 25 cents a day.
As of February 2012, 12 villages have established Village Funds with 130 loans made to villagers, of which 85 are women. Loans included: establishing 18 small businesses, purchasing livestock, paying for medical care, buying agriculture equipment and materials, village infrastructure, home construction, hiring labor to work rice fields, repairing motorbikes, and the purchase of rice to survive the rainy season. Village Funds are truly the villagers’ own capital, Trailblazer Foundation does not contribute any money to these funds.
Trailblazer provides training and oversight to Village Finance Committees for the management of their Village Fund. We also monitor loans by conducting routine audits and provide loan books to track savings and loan payments. Village Fund systems are now being implemented in numerous villages, giving more and more villagers opportunities they did not have before.
Village Funds are indicators of the economic health of the village as a whole and its ability to maintain economic sustainability, a situation that indirectly benefits every person in the vicinity of the village.
All village request-based projects are designed to ensure sustainability in order for Trailblazer (external implementer) to eventually exit the stage and allow the village community (internal activators) to successfully and autonomously continue all endeavors.
Due to flooding and poor quality roads, rural villages are unreachable in the rainy season, July through December. This obstacle creates a period of full separation between the village and NGO except for telecommunication, which is often unreliable. Without any outside assistance, Sras Village is one village in particular that has proven to be fully independent to manage its own community projects. Because of the relatively long duration of this period, the evaluation of village operations after the rainy season helps to illustrate sustainability trends for longer periods to come when Trailblazer has transferred to a role of support-as-needed.
In the last seven years, Trailblazer’s work in Siem Reap Province has resulted in: access to clean water to nearly 100,000 people through the installation of over 300 wells and delivery of over 2,400 bio-sand water filters; the construction of four elementary schools; 1 school library; vocational training opportunities for women; establishment of several micro-businesses; and village-run self-sustaining bank funds.
POSITION #1 PROGRAM ASSISTANT
Contribute to the general program operations by supporting the deliverables to the community Trailblazer Foundation serves. Interns will assist in a variety of ways, such as through research, report writing and data entry. Interns will also have the opportunity to do field visits and participate in hands-on engagement with project beneficiaries. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about grassroots, non-profit program management.
POSITION #2 AGRICULTURAL ASSISTANT
The Agricultural Assistant Intern will work alongside Khmer staff in assisting rural villagers establish new vegetable gardens and improve existing gardens in the countryside surrounding Siem Reap. Possible duties include assisting in the training of drip irrigation use/installation, developing sustainable use of bio-fertilizers and organic pesticides, assisting in marketing of crops, and testing crop growth at Trailblazer Test Garden. Crops grown in the past include cucumber, lettuce, bitter melon, chili pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, tomato, brassica, kale, pumpkin, potato, water spinach, long bean, aubergine, coriander and onion in addition to various tropical fruit trees.
POSITION #3 DATA ANALYST
Intern will work with Khmer staff to conduct field surveys pertaining to one of Trailblazer’s current village-based projects. Possible subjects include water sanitation, well-drilling, agriculture, animal husbandry, microfinance and small business development. Read a report on the impact of bio-sand filters produced by a recent intern at biosand2011.pdf.
# of Positions per term
1 for each position
Flexible, beginning in Spring 2010
Duration of Internship
3-6 months (Length of stay is dependent on time of year and/or position of intern).
For thePOSITION #1 PROGRAM ASSISTANT position:
The ideal candidate would have an interest in international development, community development, non-profit/program management and sustainability. Strong writing, research, multi-media and office skills are preferrred. As this person will be asked to contribute in various capacities, it is important for the applicant to be flexible with an ability to work independently as needed.
For theAGRICULTURAL ASSISTANT position:
An ideal candidate is one who is knowledgeable about practical agricultural matters and able to offer helpful ideas and suggestions to Khmer staff.
Required: Applicant must be working towards a degree in agriculture and be familiar with methods of successfully growing most crops* on a small but sustainable scale. Applicant must be familiar with various fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation methods (all of which would need to be replicated by villagers with minimal resources).
Preferred: Strong knowledge of statistical analysis and data collection in order to develop a formal monitoring report. Applicant should be familiar with tropical (monsoon) climate and be able to manipulate conditions to the advantage of the project.
For the DATA ANALYST position:
An ideal candidate is one who is able to fully understand the project, develop an appropriately conducive monitoring survey, properly analyze data and translate findings to practical suggestions for improvement.
Required: Applicant must be earning a degree (in economics, science and/or mathematics) relevant to a current Trailblazer project (see Job Description above). This degree must employ statistical analysis of operations as a crucial and regular practice. Applicant must have an understanding of statistical analysis.
Applicants must be flexible, patient, motivated, self-directed and culturally sensitive. S/he must be capable of overcoming setbacks and frustrations typical of working in a developing country, and also be able to work well in both field and office environments.
Preferred: Applicant should be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of data analysis. S/he should be able to think critically in order to determine trends and suggest appropriate means of improvement. Furthermore, the applicant should have excellent writing skills and be able to articulately describe data. (Application requires a writing sample describing the relationship between the applicant’s degree and an appropriate project, any past examples of in-depth analysis, and why he/she would make a strong candidate.)
Experience in working with SPSS Statistical software would be beneficial.
Both Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree candidates are encouraged to apply. Applicants must be flexible, patient, motivated, self-directed and culturally sensitive. S/he must be capable of overcoming setbacks and frustrations typical of working in a developing country, and also be able to work well in both field and office environments. S/he should be familiar with the events of Cambodia’s turbulent past.
Applicants must be flexible, patient, motivated, self-directed and culturally sensitive. He/She must be familiar with the events of Cambodia’s turbulent past. He/She must be capable of overcoming setbacks and frustrations typical of working in a developing country, and also be able to work well in both field and office environments.
Applicant must be fluent in English. Application does not require proficiency of Khmer language, but such skill would improve the applicant’s chance of selection. Contact information for an experienced and inexpensive language teacher as well as a Khmer language workbook for beginners can be provided on arrival.
Total costs vary depending on how long you plan to be abroad, where you will be living, your personal spending habits, and current exchange rates. The following estimates will give you a ballpark figure for this internship. Get help with the math from our handy Cost Calculator.
ALL ESTIMATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
IE3 Program Fee
The IE3 program fee is $3450 for the first term for both in-state and out-of-state students and $1000 for each additional term, regardless of credit earned. You do not pay tuition for the term(s) you are abroad. Visit your University's IE3 page for details, costs for additional terms, and campus administrative fees.
Estimated One-Time Expenses
|Visa Fees||$25 per month ($75 per term)|
|Recommended Immunizations||$400-$500 In addition to the recommended routine vaccinations, the following vaccinations are recommended for Cambodia: Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese encephalytis, rabies, as well as anti-malaria medication/prevention measures. Your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. See the Center for Disease Control for more information.|
*See Additional Cost Information below.
Estimated Monthly Expenses
|Local Transportation||$30 (bicycle provided, so cost is outside of work)|
Additional Expense Information
An orientation meeting will be conducted upon arrival. Trailblazer will provide a workspace and computer (with all required software already installed) at the field office in Siem Reap, as well as use of a motorbike for accessing rural villages. Intern will also be provided with a Cambodian phone and SIM card.
Housing, a bicycle for local transport and a telephone will be negotiable (pending funding from donor agencies). Trailblazer will assist with putting the intern in touch with suitable housing arrangements. They know several names/locations/prices of available guest houses and apartment complexes.
Food costs can vary widely depending on intern's eating preferences. Siem Reap has many western style restaurants that are much more expensive than traditional Cambodian fare. If one wants to eat cheaply (and deliciously) in Cambodia that is certainly possible.
The dress code is casual (t-shirt and shorts) at the Field Office, but Cambodia is a conservative country. We ask that interns (particularly female) keep this in mind when packing. For trips out to the field we must strongly discourage sleeveless shirts for men and shorts above the knee for women. When visiting village communities, long shorts or pants and a light-weight collared shirt are preferable for both sexes.
To read about their latest project success stories see the latest newsletter.
Read an intern's report on her research on the impact of Trailblazer's bio-sand filters on local communities at Jenna.biosand2011_.pdf.
Siem Riep and Surrounding area:
Cambodia is a beautiful place with a proud culture and a troubled past. For foreigners, two very different aspects of its history seem to capture the most attention.
The unfading splendor of the Angkor Empire attracts millions of tourists every year. Many ancient temples of the empire survive in the forests and countryside surrounding Siem Reap. From the Angkor Wat, the largest religious complex on earth, to the intricate carvings of temples like Banteay Srei, visitors have to opportunity to see some of the most impressive structures ever created by human hands.
Diametrically opposed to the beauty of Angkor, the horror the Khmer Rouge genocide from 1975-1979 displayed just how brutal humans can be. The Khmer Rouge were ruthless in establishing their power and routinely executed innocent men, women and children. Throughout this period and the proceeding civil war, much of the existing infrastructure of the country was destroyed and most members of religious communities, citizens with ties to the previous government, and the intelligentsia were systematically exterminated. The Khmer Rouge maintained a firm presence in the country until as recently as the late ‘90s. Contemporary Cambodia is trying to rebound from this destruction, but many aspects of development are hindered by petty corruption.
Suggested websites on Angkor:
Read how IE3 has supported Friendship Cambodia's efforts to promote responsible tourism here.
Suggested reading on Khmer Rouge: The Gate by Francois Bizot River of Time by Jon Swain
Suggested newspapers: The Cambodia Daily The Phnom Penh Post
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE ORGANIZATION