Solidarity Volunteering: Strong Relationships, Mutual Development

Exercising Freedom

Walking is the most common form of exercise. Pictured here is the “road” from Fran’s house to her workplace, Edmund Rice Sinon School.

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.

From Limpopo to Arusha

Fran on laundry day

Fran Hewitt recently finished her first Palms’ placement in South Africa. She is now volunteering at Edmund Rice School in Engosengiu, Arusha, Tanzania.

News in brief

Fran, a Physical Education teacher from Hobart, leading kids at Holy Family in some star jumps.

Three brief updates from Fran Hewitt in South Africa, John Gartner in Papua New Guinea and Kernah Foster in Kiribati.

Supporting African Initiative

Fulvio and Wogeni fix a cabinet at Holy Family Care Centre, Bushulo, Ethiopia

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.

Acceptance, understanding and care

Fran and Gregory work closely together building each others’ understandings of what will work best for their students.

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.

Sharing food, sharing skills

Fran’s friends: Florah, Nomsa, Florah, Emma and Lucy

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.

Culture, a matter of life and death

John, Anne and Sr Lucy at the Bishop's Birthday Party

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.

Variety in volunteering

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.

Orientation Course #92

Simulation exercises provide a deep insight into the challenges of working cross-culturally for development, and some useful tools. Pictured: Lawrence Chan, Fulvio Fabreschi, Ian Gray and Margaret Fogarty engage in nuanced trade negotiations.

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.


I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. - Stephen Krebbet