Volunteer Spotlight: Bryan Humphrey

After retiring, former public servant Dr Bryan Humphrey from Geelong, Victoria, wanted to use his skills to help others in need.

He applied for a volunteer role with Action on Poverty through Australian Volunteers International (AVI). They were looking for Australians to work with four of our partners in Cambodia. Here, Bryan shares his story with us in his own words.

Bryan’s story

I am coming to the end of two magnificent years in Cambodia. I have had the privilege of sharing this journey with Khmer colleagues in four non-government organisations (NGOs) working across Cambodia, and many other Khmer and expatriate friends who make up the rich diversity of Phnom Penh and Cambodia.

I provided support to skilled staff in a cluster of four NGOs who worked on the front line dealing with critical issues in the areas of child protection and development, women’s issues (protection and advocacy), and working with the marginalised poor in Phnom Penh and the provinces. My colleagues are already making a difference but they are constantly seeking ways to improve what they are doing.

As a learning and development mentor, I worked on effective learning and teaching, communicating with vulnerable groups, leadership and management, financial processes, monitoring and evaluation, child protection and developing social enterprises. We tackled strategic planning, prepared policies, wrote reports and prepared submissions. Mentoring was a particular pleasure because it was always a two-way process of learning.

I became a volunteer in order to give back and to continue life’s journey of learning. I was ready for a new challenge after ‘retiring’ from a senior position in government and after teaching for six years at Deakin University. I was ready for the many opportunities and challenges.

There were many challenges. I am still learning a new language and endeavouring to understand a new culture. I worked within different organisational cultures with competing time commitments and pressures. I was separated from family and also had the misfortune of contracting a serious illness.

But I was also immersed in the city of Phnom Penh, with restaurants, culture and never a dull moment. I explored the countryside on bikes each weekend with friends. I enjoyed literature and writing through the organisation of a monthly open mic. With Phnom Penh Rotary colleagues, I contributed to other charitable projects in Cambodia.

Thank you to Australian Volunteers International and Action on Poverty for the opportunity. I am alive with the daily stimulation of working with, and sharing, this journey with so many Khmer and expatriate friends and colleagues.

Read more about volunteering with Action on Poverty

Related Stories