Sport and exercise isn’t seen to be necessary or proper for girls/women in many African cultures. But Pascal and Nestory can see the benefits of me role-modelling for the girls, and so one afternoon I even played on the staff football (soccer) team against the Form 5 students.
Fran Hewitt recently finished her first Palms’ placement in South Africa. She is now volunteering at Edmund Rice School in Engosengiu, Arusha, Tanzania.
Three brief updates from Fran Hewitt in South Africa, John Gartner in Papua New Guinea and Kernah Foster in Kiribati.
Each field visit provides the great privilege of meeting our partners and being reminded that our volunteers are only a tiny part of a long-term development story which is driven by Africans. It is a terrific reminder of what Palms Australia is all about – supporting local initiative.
For the next few days I had the local women coming to me to say they heard I can write in Sepedi, congratulating me and asking how I learnt it.
When they left they made comments like how exciting it was, how it was the first-time they’d been invited to a white persons house, that no one has ever cooked for them before, how kind we were, etc. It is humbling to realise that it is the simplest of things that can make such a difference.
One of the great joys of volunteering is sharing in the real culture of another community. Recently, Anne Chapman in East Timor and Fran Hewitt in South Africa shared insights into family and death respectively.
As a small nimble organisation, Palms is able to respond to different circumstances in a way that many larger NGOs may not. In recent years, we have been nothing if not innovative, with Encounters, Reverse Immersions, Fair Trade and three-way partnerships providing examples of innovative ways to complement our core work.
There is something very rewarding about watching such a group interact, sharing their own expertise while working through Palms’ cross-cultural program, refined over 50 years.