OG & Sargent College present…

Health(care) in Cambodia

Cities & Sanctuaries


Program Description

Operation Groundswell’s “Cities & Sanctuaries” program welcomes participants to the fascinating country of Cambodia where big bustling cities and sacred spaces comingle. From the metropolis of Phnom Penh to the rural countryside of Banteay Meanchey, participants will have the opportunity to explore Cambodia’s turbulent past and see how communities, big and small, are building for the future. We’ll visit the Killing Fields, immerse in Khmer culture and journey to Banteay Chhmar where communities are working to clear land mines and repair rural livelihoods. We’ll interact with innovative community initiatives that exemplify the resilience of a population that has struggled for peace and now strives for prosperity. Hands-on service-learning, adventure, and cultural immersion provide a unique classroom where participants can challenge themselves while reflecting on the links between memory and justice, tourism and development.



Program Fee + Community Contribution with Carbon Offset

$2,150 USD*

$2,040 USD*

*Includes $60-$110 Community Contribution

Program Dates

May 23-June 3, 2020

Program Highlights

  • Embrace the complexity of modern Phnom Penh, from the beautiful temples and pagodas to the harsh realities of the Killing Fields.
  • Hike past rice paddy fields and fish on the river while learning about life in a small Khmer village surrounding an 800-year old temple complex.
  • Get your hands dirty and volunteer at a permaculture education centre designed to support local farmers promoting best practices in sustainable agriculture.
  • Travel back in time to explore the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation in Phnom Penh

Following airport pickups, our group will be we’ll be introduced to the sights, smells, sounds, and flavors of this modern yet distinctively Cambodian city. We’ll get an orientation to the country, its people, its culture, and begin unpacking the country’s turbulent history. We’ll visit some of city’s iconic landmarks, from the beautiful temples and pagodas to the S-21 Prison Museum and the Killing Fields we’ll explore some of Phnom Penh’s sanctuaries, meet local friends from different walks of life and acquire a variety of perspectives.

Temples & Tourism, Banteay Chhmar

From one extreme to another, we’ll head from the urban jungle of Phnom Penh to the Cambodian countryside and the village of Banteay Chhmar. Here, we’ll spend valuable time with our friends at the Community-Based Tourism (CBT) Initiative – a local cooperative organization dedicated to preserving a massive 800-year old temple complex located nearby as well as developing a sustainable local tourism economy. What a wonderful opportunity to explore alternative tourism, compare it to the mainstream, and examine its potential for local communities. We’ll also get to eat local, seasonal food prepared by aunties and grandmas in our homestays!

Land and Livelihoods, Battambang

Passing rice paddies and little villages, we’ll travel south to the province of Battambang. Here, we’ll stay on the Teuk Poh Permaculture Education Farm and join Cambodia’s permaculture action team – a group of dedicated activists promoting sustainable farming practices in marginalized communities around the country.

For a few days we’ll immerse ourselves in the amazing world of permaculture and get our hands dirty making improvements to a farm that is visited by hundreds of local farmers year-round. We’ll sleep in hammocks, eat out of palm leaves, and spend our evenings by the fire listening to Khmer folktales.

Ockenden, Siem Reap

Next, we’ll journey to Siem Reap province and visit our friends at Ockenden. This community of dedicated activists is committed to promoting and teaching sustainable, innovative, and disaster-resilient farming practices in marginalized communities around the country. So, we’ll roll-up our sleeves and join them on one of their many ongoing long-term projects while getting an intimate look at the realities, challenges, and promises of rural development in Cambodia.

Disorientation & Departures, Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

From the heart of rural Cambodia, we’ll travel back in time to the magical Kingdom of the Angkor. Passing green flat rice fields dotted with water buffalo and palm trees we’ll stumble to the staggering beauty of Angkor Wat and lose ourselves in the genius of this expression of Khmer spirituality and creativity! In addition to helping us better understand the ancient Khmer civilization, Angkor provides a wonderful space for disorientation. A staple of every OG program, this is an opportunity to reflect on our adventure, think about what we’ve learned, share stories, assess our impact and connect it all back to our lives at home. Finally, we’ll return back to Phnom Penh where we will say our fond farewells and board our flights.

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What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


This is not a vagabond’s adventure, nor is it a five-star jetsetter’s cruise. We will be sleeping and eating as a team in locally run hostels, family homestays, and community guesthouses that reflect a backpacker’s ethos. Grassroots travel and local accommodations will allow us to immerse in the culture, but life on the trail often means living without some of the comforts to which we’re accustomed. Comfy beds can’t always be guaranteed, creepy crawlies sometimes visit, occasional squat toilets are to be expected, and cold-water bucket showers are par for the course. Get ready to delight in these simple adventures!

Meet Our Regional Director

In a span of 5 years, Adhila has endured the harsh weathers of the mighty Alps, the skin melting summers of Thar, military training in Austria, and a whole lot more. A lover of forests and joyful, silly things, Adhila considers India to be her complicated, chaotic, romantic partner – one who is difficult to understand even throughout an entire lifetime. She is passionate about the potential of travel for education and for building a peaceful world. She’s keen to explore this further through OG’s vision of creating a movement of committed backpacktivists!

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