News: Opening our hands to the world

A retrospective

Peter De Haas at a Palms BBQ in 1990
In the last edition of Palms Post, as part of our celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of the Paulian Association, we reflected upon the memories and achievements of Palms volunteers and staff from the 1960s, 70’s and 80’s. In this edition, we move into the 1990’s and the first decade of the new millennium.

The 1990’s

South Africa

I have arrived safely here in Kimberely. The classrooms at St. Boniface’s, where I will be teaching, are in need of repair and a job on the floorboards (one could disappear down one of the holes in my classroom!). We are hoping to limit the size of classes to 18 so that we are able to give enough individual attention to the children so that they get into the multi-racial schools as soon as possible. In my case, the children have to pass an entrance exam to get into one of the local high schools. The students realise that education is going to be the key to improving their standard of living. Hopefully, through St Boniface’s school, some of the slower learners will be given an opportunity to succeed.
Kathy Brick, Kimberely, South Africa, May 1993

Rabaul’s Volcanic Eruptions

Palms volunteers Paul and Bridgett Barrett and their children, as well as Helena Charlesworth and Daphne White – living on Vunapope Mission – awoke on Monday morning, September 19 to the sight of two erupting volcanoes. Over the following weeks, two volcanoes devastated Rabaul. Paul, Helena and Daphne assisted in the hospital and school, where needed, in the emergency relief effort that continued around the clock.

Clare Seddon with her dancing teachers, Kiribati 1998
November 1994

Palms Review

What new directions do you think Palms might take? Founded in the ’60s, Palms had that era’s save the world attitude. Before that (and some still assume it is what we do) others were acting as if they had ‘ecclesial stability and maturity (which) entitles (one) to evangelise the pagan nations…(where)…such nations are viewed as passive recipients of the Christian message and passive consumers of European Christian culture’. This is the shadow of the past that any missionary organisation must face.

Over the next 12 months, the staff will guide a process of review. The intended process of review has been examined by others more experienced than ourselves. What is most clear is that we must let God speak to us through her people, all of them.
Roger O’Halloran, Palms Co-ordinator, Summer 1996

2000-2008

News from Kavieng

To the singing for Jubilee 2000, celebrating the Bishop and priests’ involvements in New Ireland over the last century. That was simply mind blowing. The Bishop was escorted into the ‘church’ by villagers who, I have since found out, practised for weeks before the singing: every night from about 10.30pm till maybe 1.00am. I tried to video the procession, but the tears were streaming down my face: I was so moved by what was happening. Bishop in full Bishop ‘uniform’, including hat, was dwarfed by a couple of the village people, with their traditional head-dress.
Suzanne Cullen, Papua New Guinea, Spring 2000

The Koch family in Fiji, 2003
Making the best of Malaria

Howdy folks,
I have an exciting instalment for you all. The most exciting part is that I’ve lived to tell it! Sounds good huh? Well on the night of the 20th of Sept. the Big ‘M’ finally got me! Yes, I was hit pretty hard with the dreaded malaria, but have pulled through to tell you the weird and ‘wonderful’ journey.

First, I have to mention that in all my 25 years of life I have never once vomited, and I was beginning to think it impossible, when the big M attacked and turned my world around! The night began with fever which I thought was just the flu, but when the blood test came back positive the following day, I knew I was in for an exciting ride.

I decided to take the Lariam tablets I had brought with me, but it was a bad decision as the side effects left much to be desired, and by the end of the night I think I had experienced every kind of human ailment that I have ever nursed. Now it was my turn to be the patient! I was privileged to be put on IV fluids, also a first for me.
Anna Hayek, Magale, Uganda, October 2004

Life in Mingende

Palms’ Orientation Course has proven to be a real practical strength along the way as I have been prepared for the changes which have taken place. I spent some time over Christmas at a Melanesian Course in Goroka and this has also enlightened my knowledge of this very different culture and people…

I see many problems in our area here in Simbu, where men have lost their traditional role of the warrior and the protector of the community and have not another proud role to step into. The cash economy is bypassing the traditional community and it is very sad. One result of this is the amount of drug abuse.

We are presently setting up the Simbu Rural Drug Rehabilitation Program in Mingende, which is being funded by Caritas Australia.
Frances Scurfield, Mingende, PNG, February, 2006

Fiona Cairns with two blind students, Goroka 2008
Wewak News

Well, Helen and I have been here for 6 months now and the time has really flown. No wonder volunteers are asked to come for two years; time just goes and everything takes time….

All the stories we heard about before we came away have proved to be false. Our experience has been one of meeting very friendly and helpful people. Complete strangers will offer advice or help, or they will just want to ask questions about you. At first, some can look fairly intimidating – particularly those with bright red mouths due to betel nut chewing – but even the toughest looking man has a soft and gentle voice, which can seem bizarre…

Very early on, we realised that big changes are just not going to happen in our time, so we set ourselves an easy one and a less obvious one.

The easy one was to re-establish the Disabled Sports Association and teach a group how to swim; and the less tangible one is to try and empower the locals to take more control of their services.
Gary and Helen Wolhuter, Wewak, PNG, February 2008

add to del.icio.us Digg it Stumble It! reddit facebook TwitterSHARE THIS PAGE

There is much more to doing good work than "making a difference." There is the principle of first do no harm.
There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them. - Teju Cole