“By giving them an education, the NGO fights for the girls’ rights for a better life.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Inga Sophie Jansen
Age: 31
Hometown: Hamburg, Germany
Nationality: Germany
Occupation: Assistant at Angermann M&A International Gmbh
Languages spoken: German, English (fluent), French (intermediate), Spanish (intermediate)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Advancing Women’s Rights in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 12 weeks
Start month: January 2016
Claim to fame: Inga speaks four languages! UBELONGers are a cut above the rest – great to have you in our community, Inga!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Traveling is my passion. But I felt that being a tourist is not enough. I wanted to live in a developing country and see with my own eyes what challenges a developing country like Cambodia actually faces. My goal was to get a better understanding of the people and how they deal with their recent devastating history.  Thanks to UBELONG’s transparent homepage and the programs it offers, it was an easy decision to volunteer in a developing country with the support of UBELONG.

Tell me about somebody you met who impressed you?
My co-worker Sam, Team Leader in the NGO I worked for, impressed me. The NGO gives young women between 13 and 18 years a holistic education by making sure that they go to school but also attend workshops to learn about life, the world they live in and the rights they have. Sam decided to become a social worker instead of a business man which was his and his family’s initial plan. He has had some great ideas for the NGO, his work was efficient and productive, but he is also very sympathetic, funny and his heart is in the right place. He truly wants Cambodia to tackle its problems and therefore decided to focus on young women’s education. Empowering women is very important in developing countries and therefore I admire what he does and want he wants to achieve. I could talk openly with him about Cambodia’s biggest problems and challenges, and he was also very interested in how I grew up and how life is in Germany. Because of Sam, I learned a lot about Cambodia and its people.

What is your favorite memory?
One of my favorite memories is the celebration of international women’s day at my NGO. As the day itself is a public holiday in Cambodia and as we wanted as many girls as possible to participate my co-workers and I facilitated a workshop on Sunday including education about women’s rights in Cambodia, external speakers from companies who offered internships and of course interactive games so that the girls had the chance to enjoy the Sunday afternoon. Girls in Cambodia often have many responsibilities besides school like housework, looking after siblings, taking care of grandparents or working to support their family. It was really nice to see all the girls laugh and play and let them have a day of fun. These girls are very vulnerable and likely to become future victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation. By giving them an education and preventing them from dropping out of school, the NGO fights for the girls’ rights for a better life with less worries.

In a sentence or less, how would you sum up your experience?
Being a volunteer in Cambodia has been one of the most interesting experiences in my life that broadened my horizon more than anything else I have done so far.

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Related post:
Meet Maggie, a University of Denver undergrad, who volunteered with UBELONG at the Strengthening NGO Capacity project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.