“As we prepare a new group of volunteers to begin their cross-cultural journeys, it is important that we can build substantial community support in Australia.” Palms’ Assistant Director, Brendan Joyce said.
“When Australians sign up to a volunteer’s commUNITY (available on individual volunteer profile pages) they are expressing their support for the incredible sacrifice these volunteers are making and their shared vision for a just, sustainable, interdependent and peaceful world.”
“To give up two years of your life for service of a greater good,” Brendan continued, “that is something we must applaud and support.”
CommUNITY supporters receive regular updates from the field, allowing them to learn about another cultural context and hear about the work they are supporting.
While there is no cost to signing up as a commUNITY supporter, Palms Australia estimates that if just ten commUNITY supporters gave 1% of their salary for the two year period (while the volunteer works for less than 10% of theirs), it could meet the costs of any individual placement.
Businesses are encouraged to sign up too, with the option of becoming a Corporate CommUNITY Partner. Direct costs such as flights, insurance or living allowance can be outlined to enable a quantifiable target for a business partner.
“All contributions, whether from individuals, communities or businesses, are magnified in value through the generosity of the volunteer.”
“Two years of full-time professional labour in Australia is worth over $120,000 – and even more in a training capacity – but we can provide that value to our overseas partner communities at a fraction of the cost.”
CommUNITY Supporters and CommUNITY Partners are also eligible to participate in a Palms Encounter which involves a guided cross-cultural experience, encountering the world of international development, local sustainable agriculture and tourism initiatives and the opportunity to visit their “sponsored” volunteers in the field.
In January 2010, Palms Australia will be preparing 24 people for cross-cultural work in Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Uganda, Kiribati, Samoa and Palestine/Israel.
Thirteen of these already have placements organised by Palms Australia, with three more travelling to Palestine as part of the National Council of Churches’ EAPPI program, six participants discerning their options and two children accompanying their parents to Samoa.
Each Palms volunteer will contribute to reducing poverty in their host community through the exchange of skills and knowledge at the request of the hosts. Volunteers will share skills in education, health, administration, program management, law and finance.
A second Orientaion Course, Palms’ 91st, is anticipated for July 2010.