(Formerly Returnee Integration Support Center)



I. Introduction
1.1 Purpose of this document

This document serves two purposes:

  1. To provide clients with information regarding what services the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organization provides and guidelines regarding how to access those services. KVAO provides a range of services designed to support a client in his/her transition from US society into Cambodian society and mainstream Cambodian culture. These services have been created in order to benefit clients who are interested in participating in KVAO programming; KVAO is completely voluntary and all services are provided at no cost to returnees or their families.
  2. To clearly enumerate KVAO policies and procedures in order to create a clear and universal understanding of the rules and regulations associated with the services offered by KVAO.

These services and policies will abide by the following principles:

  • Consistency with the law: All KVAO services, policies and procedures will follow the laws of Cambodia.
  • They will be fair: These services and policies will be applied fairly and consistently with all returnees except in extremely unusual circumstances when reasons will be clearly documented and open to public scrutiny.
  • Conform to the regulations and expectations of donors.
  • Sustainable for the organization: Services and policies are designed to be realistic and not to create unrealistic expectations or obligations, which will be difficult to sustain in the future. It should be noted that policies may be constrained by what donors consider reasonable and/or allowable.

1.2 Scope of the Policies

These policies are an important part of the agreement between each client and KVAO. It is the responsibility of each client to make sure they fully understand and abide by all policies and procedures. If a client does not understand they have the responsibility to request clarification.

These policies are subject to review and revision at any time deemed necessary. All changes will be made based on the inputs of all program stakeholders. The Executive Director and Board of Directors will be responsible for the regular review of all KVAO policies and procedures and will have final approval to all changes made.

II. KVAO Mission Statement

  • All services, policies and procedures must reflect the mission statement of KVAO, which has been created to assist returnees to adjust to dramatically new surroundings and function in a very different society with different rules and expectations.


                 Mission Statement                    

The Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organization is a non-governmental humanitarian organization easing the integration process into society of people who were admitted to the United States as refugees and are being deported to Cambodia. Through our services we provide initial and cultural orientation, informal counseling, documentation, employment search, temporary housing, legal monitoring, field/outreach visit, basic medical support through referrals and conflict reduction and mediation services, in order to support clients who seek assistance in becoming independent and productive members of society.

III.  KVAO Policies and Services

>> Orientation

Orientation starts prior to the client actually landing in Cambodia with knowledge obtained about the country, KVAO services and personnel. This pre-arrival information will be posted on the web site: . On the web site, links will be provided to a number of online resources such as the Survival Guide, Cambodia country reports from the US State Department, human rights groups, media organizations etc. This information exists for the entire family, as well as the client, to help people more fully understand what to expect once deported.

Upon landing the returnees will be met by KVAO personnel and Cambodian authorities at the International Airport where they will be transferred to KVAO’s residential facility for entry and documentation processing. The returnees will be informed about the services of KVAO, This usually helps them feel safer and more in control now that they have met friendly faces and people who will offer help if it is needed. In addition to the initial orientation, KVAO will also provide basic cultural orientation to all new arrivals. The orientation will be conducted in an individual or in group arrangement.

The following consists of the arrival orientation process:

  • Pre-arrival
    • KVAO web site which contains the following:
      • What to expect before arrival
      • What to expect upon arrival
      • KVAO program services
      • KVAO policies and procedures
      • General information regarding:
        1. Medical services
        2. Mental health services
        3. Employment
        4. Currency
        5. Phone calls – local and international
        6. Transportation
        7. Food and water
        8. Language
        9. Religion/culture
        10. Time difference
        11. Climate/weather
  • Processing on arrival
  • Meet and transfer all returnees to KVAO housing facility;
  • KVAO coordinate with Cambodian officials to process personal documentation
  • Case manager will meet with each returnee to complete an intake form in order to do the following:
    • Investigate any medical issues that might need immediate attention;
    • Verify if a returnee needs program sponsorship;
    • Assist in locating returnee’s relatives or other sponsor(s);
    • Orienting returnee’s relatives/sponsors in order to ensure that they are aware of program assistance.
  • KVAO will sponsor any returnee who does not have a sponsor.

 KVAO provides sessions dealing with a wide variety of topics, i.e. Cambodian history and culture, current events, NGO activities, health care, and the legal system. This is a strictly voluntary service and will only be provided upon one’s interest/request.

>> Basic Medical Support

KVAO has a humanitarian commitment to provide emergency medical assistance in cases of illness or injury or maintenance treatment for chronic conditions.

KVAO believes that after the initial resettlement phase, defined as three years, most returnees will have achieved a degree of stability, i.e. employment, family, friends, etc. After that point medical support will only be continued for returnees determined by KVAO to be an indigent and/or special needs case.It is the expectation of KVAO that the returnee will contribute to the costs of their medications and treatment in all cases where it is possible. KVAO may reimburse medical expenses up to, but not exceeding, $200.00 per incident. The following are the guidelines for this support:

  • Medications for Illness and Injury

KVAO will support the returnee to obtain, and if necessary, pay for medications and treatment that are related to a medical illness.

In order to be reimbursed for medications and treatment the following guidelines must be followed:

  • The returnee must sign-up for this service with a case manager and follow all recommendations:
    • Obtain necessary check-ups and medical exams;
    • Follow-up on all referrals to NGOs or medical agencies and follow their recommendations.
    • Obtain necessary documents and receipts for the claim of reimbursement.
  • The coverage will apply only to returnees who have been in Cambodia less than three years.
    • This coverage will be terminated by KVAO once the returnee has been in Cambodia three years, except in those cases where the returnee has been previously determined to be a “special needs’ case.

>> Employment Support

 KVAO helps returnees who request assistance in preparing for and seeking employment; KVAO does not provide jobs. KVAO will actively work to develop and maintain a large pool of potential employers to whom we can refer returnees who meet the job description, demonstrate a strong desire to work and are sufficiently stable to be able to maintain the work schedule. In order to maintain a good pool of employers KVAO must gain the confidence and respect of those employers. Returnees who fail to show for work or have other problems on the job make it very difficult to keep a good job pool.   Employment support involves the following:

  • Assisting with CV and cover letter preparation
  • Complete application forms
  • Providing volunteerism and training placement
  • Assisting in securing all necessary documents
  • Mock/practice interviews
  • Providing follow up support after a returnee has been placed to work and/or training

KVAO will follow-up with both the employer and the employee (returnee) to evaluate the progress and if there are any problems that can be sorted out.

This is a complete voluntary program. The essence of the EAP is to prepare returnees for full-time employment in Cambodia. It is important for returnees seriously searching for work to demonstrate the following:

  • An ability to perform the job
  • A strong desire to work
  • An ability to maintain the work schedule
  • Good work ethic and attitude

>> Education/Skill Training Grant

An education/skill training grant is provided universally to returnees as needed and based on the availability of resources. This provision is to help returnees become equipped with essential skills, training and education in order for them to become successfully employed and therefore better integrated into the Cambodian society.

  • The grant is up to, and not exceeding, $250.00 per returnee. In any case where the costs exceed $250.00, the returnee will be required to pay the additional fee;
  • Those interested are required to make a written request to the case manager. Note, it is the responsibility of the returnee to have all the necessary data for the proposal;
  • The grant will be determined based on the following:
  1. Needs
  2. Commitment;
  3. Ability of the individual to follow through

>> Returnee Volunteerism/Training

 Some returnees do not have the work history or academic credentials to be able to obtain jobs in Cambodia. This program is designed to provide returnees with the training and experience necessary to be able to find suitable employment. This service is meant to simulate a real job, e.g. specific work schedule, supervision (boss), job description, etc.

This is a sub component of KVAO Employment Assistance Program (EAP) designed for returnees who are serious about obtaining employment to build their resume, obtain positive references and develop the necessary work habits to function within a work environment. KVAO is aware that many returnees do not have the financial resources to be able to volunteer without some support. A small stipend is available for those who qualify to help with transportation and food.

>> Transitional/Temporary Housing Assistance

Transitional/Temporary Housing exists for returnees who have inadequate or no resources to help them get established in Cambodia, i.e., no family, no job, no funds or support from friends. This is a temporary placement and returnee’s stay will be time-limited (1-3 months) based on a mutual contract between case management and the returnee. The rules below must be followed; a failure to do so may – and repeated failures will -result in expulsion from the premises.

In order to live in Transitional/Temporary Housing a returnee must agree to the following:

  • Sign a written contract where rules and consequences are clearly listed;
  • Participate in keeping the house and living area clean as requested;
  • Participate in all reasonable tasks assigned by the case manager;
  • Demonstrate that one is making progress toward independent living.

House Rules and Regulations

  • No drugs or alcohol on the premises;
  • No weapons on the premises;
  • No stealing;
  • No violence or threats
  • No prostitution;
  • No disorderly conduct;
  • No climbing over gate or fence;
  • Clean up your room and living area always;
  • Respect the rights and privacy of others;
  • Chores are required for all returnees living on the premises;
  • No visitors inside the bedrooms.

>> Legal Monitoring Support/Assistance

  • Human Rights Monitoring
  • KVAO monitors conditions of returnees in detention in order to assure their rights are protected;
  • KVAO monitors legal proceedings involving returnees and assists them in understanding and participating fully in these proceedings
  • Prison Policy

In addition to the legal monitoring assistance, KVAO also provide those who determined to have no outside support with the following:

  1. Modest food assistance as appropriate and permitted;
  2. Soap, toothpaste and mosquito coils monthly;
  3. Tooth brush, one each quarterly;
  4. Shorts, T shirt, blanket and towel, one of each twice per year;
  5. Pain reliever and rash medications as necessary;
  6. Note book, one each monthly;
  7. Visitation every two months or as necessary

>> Documentation Assistance

  • KVAO assists returnees in understanding and securing routine documents

required of all Cambodians (e.g. family book registration, ID card, birth and marriage certificates, vehicle registration, leases, contracts, etc.);

  • KVAO assists returnees in securing documents required for employment

(e.g. driver’s license, passport, etc.)

In addition, since the majority returnees lack the Khmer language and academic skills necessary, KVAO will also provide services with document evaluation.

KVAO does not pay legal expenses, fines or any related fees or gratuities

>> Outreach Service/Follow up Support

Outreach service is intended to investigate the wellbeing of those who are living in the provinces, and follow up on those who have utilized program assistance; e.g. employment, scholarship, and housing, etc. Outreach service serves the following function:

  1. To verify a returnee’s living, employment and financial situation;
  2. To disseminate information about KVAO services;
  3. To provide services to returnees living in the provinces (outside Phnom Penh);
  4. To provide orientation as necessary;
  5. To provide legal support as necessary

This provision is only for those who have arrived in Cambodia under a three years period, those determined to be special needs cases and those who utilizes KVAO assistance, i.e. employment, housing and scholarship grant, etc.

III. Information about the KVAO Web Site

 The KVAO web site address is . The purpose of the web site is to provide returnees and their families, both in Cambodia and the United States, information regarding KVAO. The web site will contain valuable information including a Survival Guide, the immigration process in Cambodia, services offered by KVAO and orientation information. KVAO wants to inform both families and people who are waiting to be deported about what they will likely expect when they arrive in Cambodia.

Deportation is a very stressful event in the life of a person (the returnee) and the life of an entire family. This web site will hopefully be able to relieve some of the fears and tensions that individuals and their families might experience when they are about to be deported. The web site is in both English and Khmer. The site will provide the individual and their family an opportunity to contact KVAO with questions and concerns. In addition, there will be information for other interested parties, i.e. potential donors, attorneys, journalists and policy-makers. It is the hope of KVAO that this site will be able to answer important questions for anyone interested in learning more about KVAO services and staff, issues related to deportation, news stories and personal stories of returnees.

IV. Withdrawal/Termination of Privileges

Successful integration into Cambodia will require changes in your life style, i.e. changes in dress, how one relates to women, food, attitudes, family life, etc. If you come from a background where drugs, weapons, criminal behavior and/or violence have been an integral part of your life – this must change. If you hope to make a healthy adjustment to a very different way of being in the world – Cambodian society – you must be conscious and intentional in making healthy choices. Failure to adjust (to accept your return to Cambodia) could produce serious problems in your life, i.e. drug and alcohol addiction, complex interpersonal relationships, poverty, chronic unemployment, homelessness and/or incarceration.

Many returnees believe that KVAO exists to meet most of their physical and emotional needs, i.e. housing, employment and financial. A second belief is that returnees are entitled to permanent services and that these services must be tailored to their individual unique needs. A final belief is that drugs, alcohol and violence will be tolerated by KVAO.  This is absolutely wrong!

KVAO is a voluntary program. We are not a correctional or human service/welfare agency; nor are we part of the United States Government. We are a humanitarian organization which exists to support the integration of returnees deported to Cambodia. The project offers services (mentioned in within this policy manual) and is designed to work in collaboration with the returnee. This is not a one-way street, the returnee must participate, work to meet project recommendations and follow-through with their agreements. KVAO reserves the right to choose not to work with returnees – or limit its support of returnees – who violate rules or choose not to cooperate.