The Starfish Project Travel Guide

The Starfish Project is based in Sihanoukville and aims to provide support to impoverished locals who are in dire need of funding and training in order to survive.

Most people have heard the parable of the starfish. It goes like this: a Buddhist monk is walking along the coast where countless starfish have washed ashore. The monk singles out one starfish and throws it back into the sea. When his apprentice asks why bother saving one when it’s impossible to make a difference with this many starfish, the monk says, “It makes a difference to that one.”

The Starfish Project sites that parable as their inspiration. They offer direct assistance to at-risk individuals who aren’t getting help from larger aid organizations. In a decade, the project has served thousands in Sihanoukville.

The focus is on housing, medical care and business development. Projects have an intentionally narrow scope, so that projects have a fixed, feasible goal. Tourists can find out more by visiting the Starfish Baker and Café. Proceeds from selling cookies and fresh-baked breads cover 100 percent of project’s administrative costs. This means donations go straight to people in need.

There’s not an official volunteer program, but the Starfish Project is grass-roots enough to mobilize when possible. Visitors sometimes stop in, only to find out that their skills-set or experience is exactly what the staff are looking for from a short-term helper.

In brief

What is it? A community organization that trains and assists impoverished people in Sihanoukville.

Opening hours: 07:00 to 18:00, daily.

Entrance fees: no entrance fee.


Where: behind Samudera Supermarket in downtown Sihanoukville.

How to get there: walk or take a moto from any hotel in Sihanoukville, which is a 4 hour bus or taxi ride from Phnom Penh.