News: Executive Director’s Report

Another year of magnificent collaboration

We have met the demands of another challenging financial year. Overseas partner communities, volunteers, applicants, donors, and café customers, have helped Palms, albeit nervously at times, to tackle new ventures and respond to changing circumstances. We have come to recognise again that a magnificent collaboration can continue to achieve so many dreams for all the beneficiaries of what is our unique, cross-cultural, community development program.

The view from the hub has seen the biggest challenges faced by staff; so few have worked so hard to keep all collaborators and associates informed and involved. As our energies were directed to building a distinctive café business, an evacuation of volunteers from Timor Leste, or moving our office, we apologise if at times you have felt overlooked. It has been an extraordinary balancing act with the ultimate realisation that it only continues because of every donation of funds, time and inspiration offered by the rest of you.

Palms’ community development is now such a multi-faceted program, delightfully integrated at so many points. Volunteers facilitate it with the communities requesting their skills in order to assist poverty reduction. Community development occurs in the Australian communities connected through the volunteer to the receiving communities. It is a key and still evolving aspect of our Fair Trade café.

Staff could not coordinate the program without the continued belief and solidarity of all in Palms’ broad family. We thank and will need to call again on Catholic Mission, who has become our biggest institutional donor; the religious congregations, who generously gave an annual grant over the past three years; the individual donors of between $1,000 and $50,000 and the continued generosity of our smaller donors and members. Every widow’s mite is a powerful inspiration.

The growing numbers of groups sponsoring a volunteer, or supporting volunteers from their community, also particularly inspire us. There are church groups, schools, ex-armed services mates and small businesses coming to appreciate the value of poverty reduction and the splendour of cultural diversity through meeting with and receiving the ongoing stories of a Palms’ volunteer. They know the difference that their donation is making and come to know through the solidarity that follows that their own community also experiences important development.

Yes, it is a great multi-faceted network and from the rest of the pages in this Palms Post and our Web Site we can see that all of us together have gone a long way to achieving Palms Mission. But, we should not take away the impression that Palms can continue to meet the needs of global communities without increasing support. We have more volunteers offering their services, and growing costs, and we need to be able to predict that all supporters will stay with us while we steadily grow again.

I guess through some lack of predictability, and less faith in keeping supporters than I should have, I have been prudent in recent years, but in this financial year (07/07 – 06/08) we have budgeted for a 20% growth in the number of volunteers to be placed. If these volunteers are to be as effective in their two to three year cross-cultural mission as today’s and yesterday’s I will need that faith confirmed. Our preparation and support, travel, insurance, accommodation and living allowances must continue to be provided via our unique combination of contributions from communities, institutions and individuals.

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If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But, if you have come
because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. - Lilla Watson