Solidarity Volunteering: Strong Relationships, Mutual Development

Changing Expectations

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John Dorton, a Melbournian originally from the US, arrives in Kiunga, PNG, where he is mentoring staff of the Diocese. In a new placement one must be adaptable to changing roles, and it seems John has already come to expect the unexpected-  Not surprisingly, what was originally envisaged as my job has morphed. Not a […]

Four Months In

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by Clare Lourey, volunteer in Ofcolaco, South Africa- My name is Clare (or Khensani as the local staff and children now call me), I’m a primary school teacher from Sydney, Australia. Through Palms I am volunteering at Holy Family Care Centre, South Africa for twelve months. I’m currently four months into my placement and I […]

First Impressions Mukuru

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by Bev Watkinson Bev, a ‘retiree’ from Brisbane, has already volunteered in China, Timor Leste and on the streets of New York; Now fulfilling a lifelong dream, she is volunteering at the Ruben Centre in Nairobi- It all started with an incredible yearning to live in Kenya….who knows maybe it was a childhood dream to […]

A Magical Time

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by Helena Charlesworth Long-term volunteer at Sacred Heart High School in Tarawa, Kiribati, Helena tells of the moment her students discover new worlds -perhaps rediscovering a certain magic herself- The secondary college where I work has run a reading programme – Drop Everything And Read or DEAR – for some years now. I was given charge of […]

Hugs and Handshakes

Les meeting a Mt Hagen Elder

Volunteers generally come to Palms with wide and diverse experience, before being immersed in entirely new cultures, where pre-conceptions quickly unravel. The exception to prove the rule though is Les Hartwig, who with his wife Norelle, has spent most of his life and career in Papua New Guinea. Now volunteering in Mt Hagen, he is […]

The Driving Force

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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 […]

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

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by Dianne Hanna Volunteer Dianne Hanna, from Sydney, reflects on just how different life is for her -but also what is most valued- a month after commencing her placement in Maliana, Timor Leste- Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or does it? Having spent over a month in East Timor I am asked, what do I miss […]

Into the Arms of Mary

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Many Palms volunteers find themselves living among deeply religious communities. Especially in countries with a traumatic history, we find our partners often witness to how a deep personal and communal faith sustained them through the most extreme difficulties. It is a great privilege to share in a community’s own religious expression and rituals, as volunteers […]

Privileged to Volunteer

Philip at Atabae Feature

Now gaining momentum in placement, Philip Cranley from Woodcroft SA looks back over his first six months as volunteer in Dili, Timor Leste- Volunteering is for young people or retirees, right? They are tradespeople, builders, doctors, nurses and teachers, right? So what do you do if you are none of these things but still want […]

Open Hearts in Nairobi

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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 […]

Kurríkulu Foun, by Sam Haddin

Sam's classroom during a recent Palms Encounter by the Catholic Education Office

In Timor Leste, appreciation of education is almost universal. The population and government alike see education in all its forms as key to a brighter future. As often happens in a young nation and government emerging from a traumatic past, many systems are trialled and improved upon to find the best structure for the people’s […]

Hope for Health in PNG

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Peta Snikeris, a health lecturer from Wollongong NSW has spent a year in Papua New Guinea mentoring students and staff at Divine Word University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, finding her early hopes fulfilled much more than expected. She writes-   So here I am, twelve months on from arriving at Divine Word University in Madang, […]

A Day Well Spent in Mae Sot

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“The graduation ceremony for the Australian Catholic University (ACU) Diploma in Liberal Studies was held in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burma Border on May 23, 2015. Professor Geraldine Castleton, Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Education at ACU gave the formal address and presented the testamurs. Others in the platform party were the […]

Talofa Lava, by Richard Harris

Don Bosco Marching in American Samoa crop

With 2 months down, volunteer electrician Richard Harris settles into Samoan life, finding healthy challenges to our own perceptions- Talofa Lava Greetings from Samoa. I have been at Don Bosco Technical Centre (DBTC), Alafua, Samoa since 29th January 2015 as a volunteer teaching the electrical trade. DBTC is run by The Salesians of Australia, a […]


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)