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John (ACA) & Lester (CPA)

The Partner

The Pari Project
Phnom Penh

The Pari Project is a movement to increase the capacity of humanitarian organizations in Asia and Africa. Their vision is for the professionalization of the NGO sector. To achieve this, they provide an array of fundraising, marketing and organizational development services. Pari works to increase their client NGO’s accountability, transparency and efficiency.

The Pari Project

The Volunteer

John (ACA) & Lester (CPA) Name
John (ACA) & Lester (CPA)
Career break
Chartered Accountants, HK
Two friends, John and Lester, went on a two week assignment with our partner The Pari Project. This organisation works in Cambodia to increase the capacity of humanitarian organizations in Asia and Africa. Their vision is for the professionalization of the NGO sector.
Week 1
"This is the first time we visited Cambodia! Since we didn’t have a lot of country knowledge prior to the trip, we were eager to learn as much as we could in the coming days. Spending our first weekend at the downtown area of Phnom Penh was the first step - we’re soon attracted by the exotic sceneries entered into our sights. Also, the development of the city is impressive, and the local people are all very friendly. After visiting the Palace and some museums, we became much more familiar with the history of Cambodia."
"We met Allie and Sok, our key contact persons, on the first official volunteering day at the partner organization’s office. Though a bit nervous at the beginning, things went on smoothly and we’re impressed by the enthusiasm of the staff showed us. Many of them left their home countries (mainly from the US) to come to the organization, and have strong beliefs in achieving their targeted objectives. I think it’s a very good reflection for anyone who grows up in a developed country – to think about what you really want to work for in your careers. There’s no quick fix and every decision bears a cost. How to strike a balance is always lesson to learn in life.
"Our partner would like to upgrade their budgeting and HR systems as they identified that as a key area to enhance operational efficiency. In the next couple days, we’re focused on designing a tracking system in serving these ends. It’s a good challenge – though we knew the principles for such designation, we never virtually ‘created’ one in the past. With our partner’s assistance, the progress went well. 
"In the meantime, we were also planning a trip to Siem Reap and the famous Angkor Wat in the coming weekend. Truly look forward to it!"
Week 2
"Siem Reap and Angkor Wat were truly amazing places. We suggest anyone who’s interested in Asian history and culture to have a visit! Though with the limited time we’re only able to spend two days there, it was eye-opening experience and we miss the people and things there so much."
"Back to work. We got one week now to finish our tasks on hand. Beside the budgeting system, we would also like to help write down some financial policy guidelines for our partner’s future reference. After having some discussion sessions with Allie and Sok, we knew we’re on the right track. In the last few days, we’re focused on the workflow to make sure we could complete the tasks on time (these remind us the days when we’re in our work back in Hong Kong!). At the end we managed to finalize our budgeting model and explain to Allie and Sok. Everything was great and we’re glad to have contributed something to our partner in a meaningful way.
"After the final day of our work on Friday, Allie and her colleagues invited us and some other volunteers to have a BBQ dinner at a restaurant nearby. It’s full of fun and we’re kind of sad that our two-week stay at Cambodia was over. We truly hope to keep in touch with the team and wish everything goes smooth for them in future.
"When we’re at the airport and leaving Cambodia, we kept thinking what happened in these two weeks. It didn’t feel like an end, rather, the experience had triggered us to think further what we really want to pursue in future. While generally speaking the factual living standard of people in Cambodia is lower than that in Hong Kong, people’s lives are simple and they’re easier to get satisfied. Perhaps this is something which hovers on the mind of every AfID’s volunteers after the end of the placement."