Solidarity Volunteering: Strong Relationships, Mutual Development

The Driving Force

by Heather Henderson Just over a year into her second Palms placement, Heather Henderson describes the things which drive and inspire her work: A very personal statement but one all volunteers can relate to- Throughout my life I always had a desire to travel the world and work in areas of need.  I have always […]

Reflections in order to look forward

by Heather Henderson I am almost 12 months into my placement here at Ruben School in Mukuru kwa Ruben. It has been an amazing journey of education for me and to my host community. This community continues to embrace my efforts to help and advise where and when I am asked. It is a mutual […]

Open Hearts in Nairobi

Heather Henderson, our latest ‘serial volunteer’ wasted no time between completing her placement in Timor Leste and beginning another in Kenya! Five months into her new role she writes- In May 2015 I found myself boarding a flight to Nairobi, Kenya, on the invitation of The Edmund Rice Christian Brothers and with the support of Palms […]

Building new pathways, by Dianne Woo

Dianne Woo, 2 months into her placement at Atabae, pays a touching tribute to Heather Henderson who is now moving on from one Palms placement to another- It was an emotional farewell for Palms’ volunteer, Heather Henderson, when she attended the latest English language graduation ceremony in Atabae, East Timor. “Teacher Heather” has guided the […]

Meeting East Timor’s Famous Leader

by Dianne Woo, with photographs by Heather Henderson Xanana Gusmao, the charismatic former Prime Minister of East Timor, is a legend in his country. When Atabae’s Community Education Team, led by Palms’ volunteer, Heather Henderson, attended the opening of the historic Balibo Fort Hotel in Bobonaro Province, they were delighted to see that he was […]

Atabae – Ate logo i obrigadu barack

Atabae – Ate logo i obrigadu barack los husi hau nia laran  (Atabae –See you later and I truly thank you from my heart.) by Heather Henderson As I sit to write, I hear the melodious, harmonised voices of a group of young girls walking past my house on their way to somewhere. “Ba ne’be?” […]

Realising the Dream in Atabae, Timor Leste

Following independence the people of Timor Leste quickly recognised that growth in education was key to the development of their communities and nation. Almost without exception, Timorese students express an insistent determination to learn and improve their English skills as an avenue to further education and employment. Heather Henderson, a teacher from Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, […]

Timor 12 months on – Heather Henderson

Almost 4 in 10 primary school students in Timor-Leste drop out before completing primary school and those in rural areas often find it difficult to reach a school (source: UNDP in Timor Leste). While there have been major improvements in the last decade, volunteers like Heather Henderson are still essential to assist the poorest of […]

Creative Christmas in Atabae by Heather Henderson

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the Australian Embassy in Dili invited children of primary school age, in Timor Leste, to design a Christmas card. The winning design would be used for the official Embassy card. I saw this as an opportunity for the children to engage in a creative activity that introduced them […]

Passing the torch

No longer is the priority receiving a volunteer to focus on classroom teaching. Now, Atabae’s teaching assistants have asked for a teacher to focus on enhancing their skills in program planning, delivery, assessment and evaluation.

Palms’ 94th, my first

By the end of the course, our understanding and knowledge had risen exponentially. The bonds and commonality of participants had strengthened as well. I have no fears now about going to East Timor. I am just excited to meet all my new colleagues and friends that I will discover during my journey.


As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills. - Pope Francis (Joy of the Gospel 202)