News: Give a human being this Christmas

Palms Australia have challenged Australians this year to “Forget the goat. This Christmas give a human being.”

Palms Australia is offering a series of products aimed at placing global volunteers in developing communities, contributing to poverty reduction through skill exchange in health, education, administration and trades.

Gifts available for purchase range from a full year of a volunteer for $10,000; to specific direct placement costs, such as airfares ($1200) or insurance ($900 per year); to sector-specific gifts such as public health ($60) or education ($250).

“The catalogue is obviously a reference to existing aid programs where donors give a goat or a toilet,” acknowledges Palms’ Assistant Director, Brendan Joyce, “but in our case what donors are giving is a full-time professional who can exchange the skills these communities have identified they need.”

“Some years ago, the Chaser produced a sketch in which villages were complaining of being overrun by gifts past.  While obviously a humorous exaggeration, there is some truth to this and there are examples of poorly planned donor-centric aid.”

“Palms Australia avoids this by only sending volunteers to communities where there has been a specific request for a skill-set and no local person has been identified to take the role.”

In addition to the Christmas donations, Palms Australia also sells Fair Trade Coffee and Drinking Chocolate for those who ‘want gifts they can wrap”.

The gift catalogue is available online at http://www.fairtradecoffeecompany.com.au/ or as a brochure by calling (02) 9518 9551.

In 2011, Palms Australia will celebrate 50 years of sending Australians to volunteer overseas and in remote Australia. During this time, Palms has provided over $200,000,000 worth of expertise in the form of volunteers who stay for an average of two years.

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As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills. - Pope Francis (Joy of the Gospel 202)