About Palms: Blog

Palms Australia’s blog is a place for ideas around volunteering, development and crossing cultures to be explored.  It includes posts from volunteers, Palms’ staff and occasional guest authors.

Any opinions here belong to the author. We welcome all feedback as an opportunity to refine the ideas we might share. Please comment on individual posts if you have any particular thoughts, suggestions or questions. Please keep comments constructive and polite. We will moderate them for spam and inappropriate content, so they may take some time before appearing on the site.

Trust and Development

Veroica and community

By Veronica Chong on April 24, 2017

by Veronica Chong Now nine months in Atabae, Timor-Leste, where Veronica Chong is volunteer Community Development Officer, she sees the relationships formed as crucial to meaningful development in both communities and individuals, not least herself- It is the sense of social justice that motivates me in this journey. I am currently volunteering in Atabae in […]

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Changing Expectations


By John Dorton on January 30, 2017

John Dorton, a Melbournian originally from the US, arrives in Kiunga, PNG, where he is mentoring staff of the Diocese. In a new placement one must be adaptable to changing roles, and it seems John has already come to expect the unexpected-  Not surprisingly, what was originally envisaged as my job has morphed. Not a […]

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Four Months In


By Clare Lourey on October 24, 2016

by Clare Lourey, volunteer in Ofcolaco, South Africa- My name is Clare (or Khensani as the local staff and children now call me), I’m a primary school teacher from Sydney, Australia. Through Palms I am volunteering at Holy Family Care Centre, South Africa for twelve months. I’m currently four months into my placement and I […]

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First Impressions Mukuru


By Bev Watkinson on October 24, 2016

by Bev Watkinson Bev, a ‘retiree’ from Brisbane, has already volunteered in China, Timor Leste and on the streets of New York; Now fulfilling a lifelong dream, she is volunteering at the Ruben Centre in Nairobi- It all started with an incredible yearning to live in Kenya….who knows maybe it was a childhood dream to […]

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A Magical Time


By Helena Charlesworth on October 24, 2016

by Helena Charlesworth Long-term volunteer at Sacred Heart High School in Tarawa, Kiribati, Helena tells of the moment her students discover new worlds -perhaps rediscovering a certain magic herself- The secondary college where I work has run a reading programme – Drop Everything And Read or DEAR – for some years now. I was given charge of […]

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Hugs and Handshakes

Les meeting a Mt Hagen Elder

By Les Hartwig on September 19, 2016

Volunteers generally come to Palms with wide and diverse experience, before being immersed in entirely new cultures, where pre-conceptions quickly unravel. The exception to prove the rule though is Les Hartwig, who with his wife Norelle, has spent most of his life and career in Papua New Guinea. Now volunteering in Mt Hagen, he is […]

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The Driving Force

Heather and child edit

By Heather Henderson on June 29, 2016

by Heather Henderson Just over a year into her second Palms placement, Heather Henderson describes the things which drive and inspire her work: A very personal statement but one all volunteers can relate to- Throughout my life I always had a desire to travel the world and work in areas of need.  I have always […]

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder


By Dianne Hanna on June 7, 2016

by Dianne Hanna Volunteer Dianne Hanna, from Sydney, reflects on just how different life is for her -but also what is most valued- a month after commencing her placement in Maliana, Timor Leste- Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or does it? Having spent over a month in East Timor I am asked, what do I miss […]

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Into the Arms of Mary

Summit View

By Esther and Paul on November 8, 2015

Many Palms volunteers find themselves living among deeply religious communities. Especially in countries with a traumatic history, we find our partners often witness to how a deep personal and communal faith sustained them through the most extreme difficulties. It is a great privilege to share in a community’s own religious expression and rituals, as volunteers […]

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Privileged to Volunteer

Philip at Atabae Feature

By Philip Cranley on September 7, 2015

Now gaining momentum in placement, Philip Cranley from Woodcroft SA looks back over his first six months as volunteer in Dili, Timor Leste- Volunteering is for young people or retirees, right? They are tradespeople, builders, doctors, nurses and teachers, right? So what do you do if you are none of these things but still want […]

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Our security does not lie in bigger and better bombs, bigger and better targeting or
surveillance systems. Our security lies in building better relationships. - Jim Dowling